Chris Clemons tore the anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus in his left knee January 6, 2013 at Washington in the divisional playoff that the Seattle Seahawks won 24-14. He left that game in the second half, had surgery 12 days later and appeared destined to miss at least half of the 2013 schedule — which is normal for such injuries to athletes.
Not only did Clemons return much sooner than that — Week 3 to be exact — he’s played so well this season that he may be better now than prior to his injury, which is remarkable, particularly considering the University of Georgia product is 31 years of age, not 23 or 24 when the body tends to recover much quicker.
Clemons has finished each of the last three seasons with at least 11 sacks, tallying a career-best 11.5 a season ago, and is well on his way to another double-digit sacks campaign with 3.5 in five games played, entering Monday night’s game at St. Louis.
Wednesday, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll joined The Steve Sandmeyer Show to discuss his efforts to improve the lives of Seattle-area youths through A Better Seattle, and Steve asked Carroll about Clemons’ impressive return.
“He’s in incredible shape,” Carroll explained, “not just the rehab process that he went through, but the conditioning that he undertook to get to the point where he could get back on the field is just extraordinary. He was in such great physical condition to handle the rehab work that you could barely tell that he had an injury weeks and weeks ago.”
The football world marveled at the quick return and subsequent performance of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, and rightfully so. Peterson had his best year as a pro after tearing his ACL and MCL and returning 9 1/2 months later and starting a ridiculous run toward history in Week 7.
What Clemons is doing is similar; he’s more than three years older than Peterson and 50 pounds heavier, yet he’s also come back just a ferocious as ever, if not more.
Pro Football Focus, a service that grades every player’s performance on every play of every game, ranks Clemons the No. 4 pass-rushing defensive end in the NFL so far this season.
Amazingly, teammate Michael Bennett ranks No. 2, despite playing some snaps at tackle, too.
Carroll noted that the line as a whole is playing very well and that Clemons is taking advantage of that, but there’s not much doubt that he’s playing at a level equal to or beyond what he’s ever played before.
– Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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