Andre Brown was acquired on waivers from the Denver Broncos on Monday, October 18. The Training Room takes a look at the investment from a medical perspective.
Brown’s injury history begins in October 2006 when, as a member of the North Carolina State Wolfpack, he fractured his left foot in the game against Florida State. He underwent surgery and – defying all expectations – returned to the field less than a month later to complete the season. During spring drills preceding the 2008-09 season, he fractured the foot again. He underwent surgery, rehab, and went on to start all 13 games.
As a promising young back with the New York Giants, Brown suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in practice on August 14, 2009. According to the Carroll Guide to Sports Injuries, an Achilles injury is usually the result of a “dynamic, forced dorsiflexion (forcing the foot and toes upward toward the leg) that stretches the tendon beyond its yield point.” Brown was reported to have jumped up for a pass in the end zone and came down writhing on the ground; he likely landed with his weight too far forward over his left foot to cause the rupture. He had surgery four days later, and spent the year in rehab. He returned to the Giants this off-season, and although he was able to fully participate in all two-a-days in training camp, was released on September 4 as D.J. Ware beat him out to make the team. The Broncos claimed Brown off waivers the next day, and have played a game of chicken with him ever since – waiving and signing him to their practice squad two weeks later, then re-signing him on September 21, and releasing him again on October 16 in what was supposed to be a short-term move.
Assessment: a running back with a history of leg/foot injuries is a bit concerning, and it is notable that all of the aforementioned injuries have been to Brown’s left leg/foot. However, one thing is clear – Brown is TOUGH. He has worked through a broken foot… twice… to return to the field far earlier than expected. And he has seemingly defied the odds in his return from a significant tendon rupture to become at least a fringe player in the NFL.
Zach Berman of The Star-Ledger wrote about Brown’s battle to return to the field, including the mental hurdles he had to overcome while he tried to learn the offense from the sidelines and as he had to learn to trust his leg again. Brown also claims to be even faster than he was before his injury. If he is meant to bolster the backfield in Addai’s (hopefully temporary) absence, he will need to bring both that toughness and speed to bear. Welcome to the Colts, Andre!