The impact ripples were still rolling over Halas Hall and the Bears in the wake of confirmation that defensive tackle Henry Melton will have surgery on the torn ACL that ended his season Sunday night in Pittsburgh. Already the look is to the future.
And the early non-scientific word is that the Pro Bowl defensive tackle will be ready for the 2014 season, although major questions will come with that overall situation.
Melton agent Jordan Woy took to twitter (@JordanWoy) to announce that “Bears Henry Melton does have ACL. Dr say recovery time next May or June at latest. He will be ready for off season, TC and pre season games.”
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Melton went down while working against Steelers right guard David DeCastro in Sunday’s second half. He wasn’t hit on the knee but had to be taken off the field on a cart and left Heinz Field on crutches. Surgery will come within the next several weeks.
In the meantime coach Marc Trestman was in touch with Melton after the team returned from Pittsburgh, texting the four-year veteran to make sure he was OK driving himself home.
Trestman then came in early Monday to spend time with Melton and his mother.
“We had a player hurt and it wouldn’t matter if it was the first player on the team or the 53rd,” Trestman said. “He had a significant injury and he was hurting. I wanted to make sure he got home safe. He was driving by himself. He wouldn’t allow anybody to drive him home.
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“And it wasn’t just me doing that. There were other people on our team and our staff looking after Henry while he got home. He texted me when he got home and I knew he was coming in at 11 and I came in at 11.”
But after 2013…?
This marks the second season-ending injury for Melton, a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft who went on injured reserve with a preseason ankle injury and missed his rookie year. He missed the bulk of training camp this year with a concussion suffered early in the San Diego preseason game and was slowly working to regaining his 2012 form.
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Melton’s rehab and recovery from ACL surgery now are personal and organizational franchise decisions. Will his return be on the scale of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who returned for torn ligaments to be MVP last season, or Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who missed the entire season following his torn-ACL surgery?
Melton is signed only through this season by virtue of the franchise tag the Bears placed on him last offseason and which guarantees him $8.45 million for 2013. He and the Bears could not agree on a long-term deal and Melton accepted the tag terms.
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Realistically, the Bears will need to assess Melton’s condition and base some decisions on that assessment, possibly in next year’s draft or free agency.
Players were visibly saddened after the Pittsburgh game at the injury to Melton. “Anytime you see a player go down it’s sad because you don’t know the extent of the injury,” said wide receiver Earl Bennett. “And when you’re one of those guys who’s been working hard all offseason, it’s just sad to see him go down.
“God has a plan for everybody, and I know that he has a bigger plan for Henry and I know financially-wise that God will take care of that situation and Henry will be all right. He’s a great player, we’re going to miss him the rest of the season, but I just wish him the best, just rehab as hard as he can and get ready for next season.”