Being a veteran running back in the NFL doesn’t come without a few scars. Just ask Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerrick McKinnon.
Go back... way back... to August 12, 2018.
McKinnon was coming off a couple of disappointing years with the Minnesota Vikings, which saw him average a meager 3.6 yards per carry. He had just signed a four-year, 30-million dollar free-agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason. He was battling for touches against Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert.
Up until this point in his career, McKinnon had managed to stay relatively healthy, but that was all about to change. First, McKinnon injured his calf in practice. At the time, they said it was a strain, but even then, the details were murky, according to the San Diego Tribune at the time.
There was initial worry for a serious knee injury, but the news after an MRI was he has a calf strain and will be re-evaluated after one week of rest.
This does not mean McKinnon will play or practice after one week. It is more like a delayed flight where the airline says check back at the gate in an hour.
The hope is he won’t be out much more than a week, but there is potential cause for concern.
As it turns out, there was a significant cause for concern. On September 1, less than a month after McKinnon suffered the injury to his calf, he tore his ACL on the last play in practice.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said McKinnon made a cut and immediately went down awkwardly on a noncontact play.
McKinnon tweeted Sunday that he “will be back stronger than ever in 2019.”
I just want to thank everybody for the encouraging messages , calls, love and support. Im so grateful to have so many loving people in my life . This is a blessing in disguise I will be back stronger than ever in 2019!!!— Jerick Mckinnon (@JetMckinnon1) September 2, 2018
McKinnon was convinced he would be back in 2019, but life had other plans yet again. Two practices after returning from his torn ACL, McKinnon could tell something wasn’t right.
McKinnon is back to watching practice from the sidelines. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan announced McKinnon’s knee was not feeling good after two practices.
It’s not easy to rebound from one, let alone two, major knee injuries that sideline you for a collective 24 months. When he was asked about his rehabilitation from those injuries, McKinnon said that he had good role models to look up to early in his career that showed him what it meant to prepare like a pro, and this helped him in his rehab.
“About the injuries — as I look back, I can only thank the older guys that I had in front of me that showed me what it looks like: what it means to be a pro,” said McKinnon on Tuesday, before naming his mentors. “Matt Asiata, Adrian Peterson— those guys. Leeching onto them and their habits — taking care of my body and stuff like that, has given me a chance to get to this point. [To] overcome those injuries and be available for the team when called upon.”
At 30 years old, McKinnon is basically a “senior citizen” in running back years, which is why Mckinnon goes to extremes to take care of his body, including visiting an acupuncturist at the Chiefs facility four times a week.
“It’s a whole list,” laughed McKinnon. “First of all, we have an incredible training staff. I’m in there almost every day with (assistant athletic trainer) Julie [Frymyer], (head athletic trainer and vice president) Rick [Burkholder], [assistant athletic trainer David Glover], those guys. Acupuncture’s big, dry needling, cupping.
“Pretty much anything that they can offer, I’m doing, I’m doing it to stay alive and stay healthy, so it’s good. Shoutout, credit to the training staff and the hard work that they put in.”
A shoutout, indeed. Whatever Burkholder and his staff are doing, Chiefs fans hope you keep it up.
The Chiefs need their Jet fully fueled and ready for takeoff by this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time.