San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree is recovering from surgery to repair his torn right Achilles tendon, an injury Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is plenty familiar with. Suggs returned from the injury in just five months and addressed what lies ahead for the 49ers receiver in a recent interview with CBSSports.com.
Initial reports suggested Crabtree's expected recovery time would be around six months, and the doctors who performed surgery indicated they did not expect it to end his season.
[REWIND: Crabtree out with torn right Achilles]
Suggs' conversation led to six keys for Crabtree to keep top of mind during his rehabilitation:
1. Don't let anyone kid you; a torn Achilles is as bad as you've been told
"I don't know how I made it home. It felt like the world moved. It was the loudest sound I ever heard, and I was told, 'Yeah, you tore your Achilles and you're pretty much out 12 months.' ... You can walk, but it's excruciating pain, and you know something's wrong because you have no stability in your foot. It was hands-down the worst thing I've ever had to experience, and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't happen again."
2. The injury is more significant for a receiver than it is a pass-rushing linebacker
"They have to do more running and cutting, and explosion is a big part of their game. ... I can't tell you for sure what [Crabtree] should expect when he comes back because it's different for players at different positions. For me, my explosion didn't really get there until the end of the season. So, my guess is that he wouldn't be Michael Crabtree right off the bat. But through work and continually strengthening his Achilles it eventually will come back, and he'll be able to be the Michael Crabtree of old. I just think he needs to be prepared for the beginning stages of his return."
3. Speaking of those beginning stages of recovery, it's all about doing the unthinkable: nothing
"The first two-and-a-half to three months he's going to have to be patient and content within himself," Suggs said, "because he can't move. My doctor told me, 'You've got to give me three months ... just three months ... of lying down and not doing anything. No hobbling around on it, nothing like that. You can't move. Nothing.' So he shouldn't try to lift his upper body. ... Take those three months and get your mind focused on the rehab ahead and attack it like an S.O.B."
4. The pain can be intolerable
"He's got to sit still and let his wound heal," Suggs said. "He's a younger guy so he can let his body take over. But after that, I hope he's got a very high pain tolerance because the first thing that's going to start is crunching the towel up with his toes. And then he's going to add weight to that. And then there's the conditioning part. He's going to have to run in the pool and run on the Alter-G [treadmill]. He's in for it. I just hope he has a high pain tolerance."
5. Stay mentally tough
"You've got to see the big picture," Suggs said. "There's going to come a point in your rehab where your body is not going to respond like it normally does or like you want it to. You're not going to be able to explode like you want to. Your conditioning is not going to be right. You're going to get discouraged because the recovery is very difficult."
6. Surround yourself with a strong support group
"I couldn't have done it without my wife, without my friends and without my coaches. When they got me [at the team facility] they reminded me every day, 'We're waiting on you, Sizzle; we need you back.' It was my coaches -- my position coach, my head coach and my coordinator. ... Pretty much every day those guys saw me they reminded me, 'It's huge, Sizzle, and we're waiting on you.' That was a big part of me making every workout and getting back."