During the opening week of the Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, head coach Andy Reid reported on two players who are now rehabbing injuries: defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton and running back Isiah Pacheco.
Let’s examine the situation for both of these players.
Wharton suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on October 10th during the team’s “Monday Night Football” victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. On Wednesday, the team placed him on its Active/PUP (physically-unable-to-perform) list. He can participate in team meetings and other activities, but may not participate in practice. He continues to count against the team’s 90-man offseason roster.
Wharton can be activated to the active roster at any point during training camp — but if he remains there, the Chiefs will have to make a decision at the final cutdown to the 53-man roster. If he is not activated to the active roster at that time, he will go to the Reserve/PUP list for at least the first four weeks of the regular season. Like with the offseason version of PUP, he could participate in team meetings and other activities, but could not participate in practice. But unlike offseason PUP, he would not count against the team’s roster.
It has now been nine months since Wharton’s surgical ACL reconstruction. Following this procedure, athletes will typically return to the field after nine to twelve months of rehab. With no negative status updates following surgery — and no other structural damage reported with the injury — there should be no reason we should be concerned that Wharton could begin the season on the Reserve/PUP list; he would be on schedule.
As his teammates practice in St. Joseph, it is likely that Wharton will be continuing to work on the stability of the repair — and enhancing his conditioning and explosiveness. When the Chiefs kick off their championship title defense in September, he will be nearly 11 months past his surgery. As long as the rehab from Wharton’s ACL reconstruction continues as scheduled, it is certainly possible he will be cleared to return to action at the end of four weeks on Reserve/PUP.
Pacheco arrived at training camp recovering from two offseason surgeries. Kansas City’s starting running back played through Super Bowl LVII with a broken hand and a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Despite the shortened offseason following the championship win, Pacheco has been participating in the team’s preliminary training practice sessions — albeit in non-contact situations — and appears to be in top shape.
During drills, Pacheco showcased his token explosiveness, quick cuts and ability to stop on a dime. No issues in the pass game, catching balls in stride and not shying away from leaping up to high-point. The hip fluidity was there. Sans the yellow jersey, no sign of injury.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 19, 2023
Since the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint — like the hip joint — it allows for increased freedom of movement. With this increased mobility, there is a need for more stability. That is the function of the labrum that Pacheco injured.
The labrum is a thin rim of cartilage between the humeral head (ball) and glenoid socket (labrum). It serves as the attachment site for various shoulder ligaments and the rotator cuff. Symptoms of a torn labrum include pain and a grinding or locking sensation during shoulder movement — along with increased instability that can lead to dislocation.
It is extremely impressive that Pacheco was able to play through this injury at the end of the season — especially considering his broken hand and bruising playing style. The timetable for a full return to the field after a torn labrum is up to six months. This means Pacheco could return to partial or full contact at some point in August.