On Tuesday, Justyn Ross’ rehab, following spinal surgery back in June, took a dramatic upgrade.
The Clemson wide receiver tweeted he was going to be able to put a helmet on for the first time since the spring. It was a big step in his road to getting back to running routes and catching passes for the top-ranked team in the country.
What did Tuesday’s news mean for Ross?
“He is doing all of his rehab work with a helmet,” head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday following practice. “He was pretty excited to be able to put that helmet on. Next week, he gets to go to another level. Next week, he will be in the dress of the day and we will put him in individual and all of routes versus air.
“He cannot have any contact or anything like that. But he will be able to start doing Indy (drill) and doing routes versus air with receivers and work with the quarterbacks. That will be a big shot in the arm for him too.”
However, don’t expect to see Ross catching any passes in 2020, at least that is the way Swinney has interpreted the situation. When asked, Swinney confirmed the plan is to still have him ready to practice in the spring, similar to the way they did Mike Williams after he had neck surgery after fracturing part of his neck in the first game of the 2015 season.
Williams practiced cautiously with the Tigers in the spring of 2016.
“I think that is our hope. That is our best-case scenario,” Swinney said. “It is kind of like we were with Mike. I do not anticipate him playing football at all, as far as being tackled, until next fall. I have no idea. He is doing great. He is doing everything. But being tackled is a whole other question. That is up to Dr. (David) Okonkwo when he is cleared to do that.
“He definitely will be able to get back into spring practice like Mike did and do some things. But we still probably will not be able to cut him loose until later on in the fall (of 2021). Again, that is all up to the doctors.”
After undergoing an X-ray last spring that looked at his back and spine following an injury in March, Ross learned he had a congenital fusion, which was something he was born with. The doctors also discovered he had a bulging disk, which only aggravated the situation.
Ross experienced stinger-like symptoms and numbness after catching a pass and being hit during a spring practice. He was slow to get up and ended up missing the remaining few practices of the spring.
Clemson’s top returning receiver from a year ago, had surgery in Pittsburgh. One of the country’s top neurosurgeons, Okonkwo, is the neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ross is scheduled to meet with Dr. Okonkwo again in early December.
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