It is an unfortunate part of the game and many players have had to deal with it, the subsequent surgery and rehab. The National Football League has its fair share of serious knee injuries and Chris Neild was no exception. The 6’2”, 330-pound nose tackle had a successful rookie campaign in 2011 – playing in all 16 games – and bigger things were expected of him in his sophomore season.
“I had a good game in our first preseason game that summer,” the member of the Washington Redskins recalls. “A sack and three tackles. I was in peak shape. But then in the next practice, I tore the ACL in my left knee.”
After undergoing surgery, Neild had to wait a couple months before even putting any weight on the leg. Slowly, he began rehabbing with the treadmill and doing leg raises, getting healthy enough to participate in OTAs by mid-April of 2013.
As luck would have it, the West Virginia product strained his calf (Grade 2) and missed some more time, playing in a total of eight games last season. But more importantly, the knee was fine and he expects it to continue to be by taking precautionary measures.
“I undergo a procedure called dry needling,” he explains, “that’s similar to acupuncture. But instead of dozens of needles, the physical therapist put in one and kind of pokes around. The result of this is bringing more blood flow to the area.”
Because he plays in the middle of the Redskins’ 3-4 defensive line, Neild has to be able to take on constant double teams from the opponent’s center and guard. That means he needs to train hard in the gym and create a solid base – meaning a lot of heavy leg exercises, bad knee not withstanding.
“I’m a squat guy,” he says. “I pride myself on that. I do a lot of barbell squats, box squats and eccentric squats (four seconds down, two seconds up).”
When asked what his max on the squat rack is, Neild humbly replied, “In March, I did 575 (pounds) for five reps.”
Sounds as if his knee is just fine.
Be sure to follow Chris Neild on Twitter – @TruckNeild
Photos courtesy of the Washington Redskins