Monday, September 25, 2023

Jaylen Waddle’s injury status: will the Alabama receiver return to play in the CFP championship?

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Jaylen Waddle remains one of the biggest question marks – otherwise the bigger – on their way to the college football qualifying championship.

The status of Alabama’s star receiver remains uncertain ahead of Tide’s No.3-ranked reunion with Ohio State, and Alabama has neither confirmed nor denied whether he will be able to take the field against the Buckeyes next Monday.

Why does this matter when Alabama already has Heisman and Biletnikoff winner DeVonta Smith ready to go? Waddle actually over-produced the Sporting News Player of the Year ahead of his Week 5 injury against Tennessee, producing 557 receiving yards and four touchdowns against Smith’s marks of 483 and four, respectively.

If Waddle returned to 100% good health, he would immediately improve on what is already one of college football’s most powerful offenses. Of course, there’s also the question of whether it’s just the playing skill of Tide coach Nick Saban, forcing Ryan Day and Ohio State to plan the game for someone who could. do not play.

Whether this is the case remains to be seen. Until then, here’s everything you need to know about Waddle’s injury, how it happened, his recovery schedule, rumors, and the status of the game:

MORE: Alabama’s DeVonta Smith is Sporting News 2020 Player of the Year

How long is Jaylen Waddle away?

When Waddle sustained a broken ankle during the kickoff against Tennessee on October 24, Saban didn’t say much about the severity of his injury:

“He went out. He went out”, Saban said. “He’s out for the year. And that’s a shame, because this guy is a great player. It’s exciting for college football to see a guy play like that. I hate it.”

On Monday after the game, Saban told reporters that Waddle had successful ankle surgery on Saturday night and has been in hospital since then.

Saban on December 16 provided an update on Waddle’s status (via Charlie Potter, 247Sports Alabama reporter), saying the receiver was out of his boot, running on a treadmill and “making good day-to-day progress” – but not practicing. Twelve days later, on December 28, Saban provided a new update on Waddle’s injury:

Three days after Alabama’s Rose Bowl victory over Notre Dame on January 1, however, Matt Zenitz of reported that Waddle would return to training on Tuesday, six days before the national title game. That day marked 10 weeks and three days after sustaining the injury, which typically has a 6-10 week recovery time.

According to a Tuesday report from Athletic’s Aaron Suttles, Waddle has been cleared to practice but will make the final decision to play. Part of that decision is whether he’s comfortable enough to take the pitch and risk injury: the star receiver is seen as a consensual first-round talent, with Sporting News projecting it as the 15th overall selection by the New England Patriots.

What is Jaylen Waddle’s injury?

Waddle’s exact injury, per Saban, was a combination of a sprained high ankle and a fractured right ankle.

The injury occurred during the kickoff against Tennessee on October 25; Willing defenseman Kenneth George Jr. was on the tackle, forcing Waddle’s right foot to get caught between his body and the pitch, causing damage to his ankle.

The risk of re-injuring a broken ankle once it has been completely healed can be minimized by strengthening the local muscles around the initial break. Assuming Waddle did enough to strengthen his ankle muscles – to the point that he could play at game speed – he probably wouldn’t need to worry about breaking him again as a result of his injury. earlier.

Will Jaylen Waddle play in the CFP Championship?

Waddle’s teammates who have seen him train say he has appeared relatively free.

“I think he’s coming back to it,” said Smith (via BamaInsider). “Sure, it’s going to take a little while just to get him comfortable with everything, but he looks good on me.”

Quarterback Mac Jones said: “I feel like looking at him, he looks really good there. So we’ll see what happens.”

Still, Saban said whether Waddle plays will likely be a match day decision.

“The problem with injuries is when a guy is training, how does he react to the workload?” Saban said (via BamaOnLine). “Sometimes if a guy trains one day and is in pain the next, you can’t train him the next day, so you keep trying to increase his workload until he can play. So that’s a work in progress right now, and you really can’t predict where he might be, and then other guys seem to be getting stronger, every day they train, they get a little better. .

“It’s something we’re trying to assess, but not anything we can predict at this point.”

Saban provided a final update on Waddle’s status on Sunday, saying he was able to train “to some extent” before the game. That said, Saban said the team will likely not know if he can play before the pre-game warm-ups.

Around 2 p.m. ET on Monday, Zenitz reported that, according to sources, Waddle is “likely” to play. Zenitz added that he, his family and Alabama will meet and make a final decision after the pre-game warm-ups are over. Saban later said that Waddle would be used “on a limited basis, if he can play.”

Jaylen Waddle Injury Updates

October 24: Jaylen Waddle initially breaks his ankle in what Saban calls a late season injury.

October 24: Waddle undergoes successful ankle surgery.

December 16: Saban says Waddle is out of his cast and is running on a treadmill – but isn’t training.

December 28: Saban says Waddle is running on dry land but still unable to train.

January 1st: Waddle is seen catching balls before the Rose Bowl.

January 4: Matt Zenitz reports that Waddle will return to training the next day.

January 5: Aaron Suttles reports that Waddle is allowed to train, but has the final decision to play or not.

January 6: Alabama teammates DeVonta Smith and Mac Jones say Waddle looks good on his return to training.

January 7: Saban says Waddle’s status to play will be a game day decision.

January 10: Saban says Waddle’s status will be determined after Monday’s pre-game warm-ups.

January 11: Zenitz reports that Waddle is “likely” to play, but the final decision will come after the warm-ups. Saban clarifies that Waddle will be used on a limited basis if he plays.


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