Don't count on star South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney being ready to participate fully in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, if the Gamecocks junior declares early eligibility for the NFL draft as expected.
Clowney said earlier this week that he will play through pain from bone spurs in his right foot for the balance of the season, then have them surgically removed after the season ends. Assuming the 2-1 Gamecocks qualify for a high-level bowl game in early January, that means Clowney would only have about six weeks between surgery and the combine, which will be held Feb. 18-25 in Indianapolis.
And that's probably not enough recovery time, according to surgeon Phillip Kwong of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
"I don't think that's likely to happen. I think it would take at least six weeks, but more like in the area of two months, three months, eight to ten weeks would be more likely," Kwong said. "He's going to have to do quick, explosive moves, accelerate, decelerate, change directions. He'll be sprinting, running hard, that type of thing. I would think six weeks, depending on what it is, I don't think he could be at full speed."
Even if he's unable to run the 40-yard dash or participate in drills that are stressful on the foot, Clowney could participate at the combine on a limited basis. Everything from interviews to physical measurements to bench pressing and more would fall into that category. If he needs a few weeks beyond the combine to run full speed, he could do so at South Carolina's annual Pro Day workout, which was held about a month after the combine last spring.
Kwong said bone spurs are calcium deposits in a joint area that the body creates to fill minor cracks created by friction in the joint.
"A spur is a reflection of some other process going on ... the spurs themselves may not the cause of the problem, they may be the effect," Kwong said.
Kwong cautioned that recovery times can vary and, absent knowing more details about Clowney's specific case, he could not be certain about when the star defensive end will be recovered. But based on what is normal for bone spur removal, things don't look promising for the junior's chances of being a full participant at the combine. Kwong also said elite athletes such as Clowney can recover more quickly from minor surgery.
"If they're healthy, have good habits, good diet, they don't smoke, they'll heal faster," Kwong said. "And (Clowney) is going to be in a situation where he can get good, intensive therapy, as opposed to the average weekend warrior."