When Nate Sudfeld first went down Thursday night, the question on everyone’s mind was how long. How many months and how many games would the Eagles backup quarterback miss?
The general consensus has been that a broken wrist injury takes about six to eight weeks to recover from after the initial surgery. Sudfeld went under the knife Friday morning and the Eagles stated they would update his status on Saturday morning. The waiting is the hardest part.
For now, the plan is to continue through the preseason with veteran Cody Kessler and rookie Clayton Thorson as taking the additional reps under center and serving as Carson Wentz’s backup. Head coach Doug Pederson emphasized Sudfeld’s injury wasn’t a season-ending one.
“It’s his non-throwing wrist and he’ll have surgery in the morning to repair it. It’s not season-ending so we’re excited about that and after surgery we’ll have a better update for you, probably Saturday morning,” Pederson said.
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Q&A with Dr. Mehta at Penn Medicine
The Eagles didn’t give a timetable for Nate Sudfeld’s return, so Heavy.com reached out to the renowned team of surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania. Samir Mehta, MD is the Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma and Fracture Care at Penn Medicine and he provided insight on recovery times and surgical procedures on broken left wrist injuries similar to the one Sudfeld sustained.
It is important to note that Dr. Mehta did not treat or diagnose Sudfeld. He is speaking in the general sense about things he’s seen and worked on with his own patients. Here is what he told Heavy.com in a brief Q&A session:
Heavy: Generally speaking, can you describe what exactly happens with the bones in the human body when a wrist is broken?
Dr. Mehta: The break typically involves the end of the radius bone, which is the wider part of the wrist. Essentially, if you imagine the wrist like an ice cream cone — the top of the wrist falls backward relative to the forearm, like an ice cream falling off an ice cream cone. Or you could picture it as breaking a branch in half, but part of it is still hanging on by the splinters of wood.
Heavy: Did you see Nate Sudfeld go down during last night’s game? What was your initial reaction when you saw it?
Dr. Mehta: Ouch. You could tell it was not “just a sprain.” But there are a lot of things it could have been. My reaction was similar to what it was when I saw Gronk [Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski] go down. The greatest likelihood was that it was a broken wrist, but could have been a number of things.
Heavy: How does a surgeon fix a broken wrist? Can you briefly describe what goes into the surgery process?
Dr. Mehta: Usually, the most common way to fix a wrist fracture is to make an incision over the front of the wrist and reduce the fracture (put the ice cream back on the cone) and then hold it in place with either a stainless steel or titanium plate (that looks like a T) with screws above and below the fracture through the plate.
Heavy: What is the typical recovery time for a broken wrist injury?
Dr. Mehta: Usually after surgery in a younger patient like Sudfeld, I would start them on immediate range of motion after surgery (no cast or brace). The advantage of surgery (aside from the risks) is early rehab and recovery.
Heavy: When would you expect an athlete of Sudfeld’s caliber to return to the football field?
Dr. Mehta: Since it is his non-dominant hand, I would potentially consider 6 to 8 weeks after surgery as long as the wrist can be protected in some kind of hard-shell brace on the field. However, in general, after a wrist fracture, I would not usually allow a return to contact sports for 12 to 18 weeks unprotected.
Nate Sudfeld’s Hot Start in Preseason Week 1
The injury to Nate Sudfeld spoiled an otherwise stellar debut for the backup quarterback. Early in the second quarter, Sudfeld hit a streaking Marken Michel on a 75-yard touchdown strike that looked as good as the Eagles drew it up.
Sudfeld finished 10-of-18 for 177 yards and one score on the night for a passer rating of 107.9. Michel, who has been fighting to make the 53-man roster as the fourth receiver, only caught the one ball. However, it sent his confidence through the roof.
“It’s been a long road. It’s been long. I feel like I put in a lot of work. Definitely the work is not over,” Michel said. “Only the people that’s closest to me know the things that I’ve been through to get to this point and to get that touchdown. For me, that touchdown wasn’t six points. It was way bigger than that.”