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The Reason Breece Hall May Not Be Ready Week 1

Former NFL team doctor explains why the running back's early season status is in jeopardy

Regaining straight-line speed is only one part of the recovery process for football players who tear their ACL.

When reporting on running back Breece Hall's recovery, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh has mentioned, on multiple occasions, that the electrifying ball carrier has been hitting 22+ mph on the GPS tracking devices worn by players. 

Hall cannot participate in practice until he's taken off the PUP list, but the determined second-year pro has been present and working on the side with trainers since OTAs. 

"Breece looks fantastic, to the point where we’ve got to slow him down," said Saleh after the news of Dalvin Cook's impending free-agent visit surfaced on Thursday. "He’s freakish, he’s in great shape. He looks much more fit than he did a year ago, just adding muscle and all that stuff, and still weighing 225 and hitting, like I said, that 23 on the GPS."

While it's certainly encouraging that Hall hasn't lost his ability to fly, it's not necessarily an indicator that the 2022 second-round draft pick will be ready for Week 1.

Dr. David Chao, known as @ProFootballDoc on the social network formerly known as Twitter, explained why Hall's ability to reach a certain speed should not be mistaken for a signal that he is "good to go." 

Chao, who spent 17 years as the San Diego Chargers' team doctor, referred his followers to an older thread related to Odell Beckham's 2022 comeback from the ACL tear he suffered during Super Bowl LVI.

Quote tweeting a video of Beckham racing at high speed on a treadmill while wearing a resistance harness, Chao said, "Congrats to @obj on the hard work. Great progress. More to come. Key is not acceleration but deceleration and cutting."

By all accounts, Hall has progressed sufficiently throughout the rehabilitation process, but that does not allow one to assume the second-year pro will be able to consistently make the live action football moves required of running backs.

It's only been nine months and one week since he suffered the season-ending knee injury against the Denver Broncos on October 23, 2022 and he won't reach the 11-month mark until Week 3 of the upcoming regular season.

Beckham was 11 months post-injury in time for the 2022 NFL Playoffs, but no contender saw the former Pro Bowl receiver as ready to contribute and he remained unsigned.

One can argue that running backs need the ability to cut in more instances than a receiver does. If New York Giants' running back Saquon Barkley provides any indication, it could be awhile before Hall returns to his pre-injury performance level.

Barkley suffered the ACL tear two games into the 2020 campaign. He recovered in time to play 13 games in 2021, but his production experienced a drop-off. In his first season back, the former Penn Stater scored only two touchdowns rushing while averaging 3.7 yards per carry. It wasn't until 2022 that Barkley became a 1,000-yard rusher again.

Beckham and Barkley were both elite athletes at the height of their game prior to the sustaining the knee injury and they both needed more than one full year to return to form. 

As Chao pointed out, Cook's visit is "not an accident."

Whether or not they sign the four-time Pro Bowler off the free-agent market, the Jets will take a cautious approach to Hall's recovery. 

"Obviously, we’re going to do good by him and make sure that we slow play it, but he’s in really good shape," said Saleh at the start of training camp.

Should he prove ready to play by Week 1, Hall will likely see a lessened workload until later in the season. 

Chao on Garrett Wilson's Injury:


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