Chris Carson will be playing in his age-26 in 2020. Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Carson grew up in Lilburn, Georgia. Carson played his first two seasons of college at a small community college in El Dorado, Kansas, called Butler. He then transferred to Oklahoma State as a junior. Despite only playing in nine games as a senior, Carson rushed 82 times for 559 yards, which is 6.8 yards per carry, and nine touchdowns.
Carson was 5’ 11 ¾” (they couldn’t give him the ¼ inch?), and 218 pounds at the NFL Combine, and ran a 4.58 40-yard dash. The Seattle Seahawks drafted Carson in the seventh round. Carson would spend time his rookie season sharing the load with Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy. Carson’s season would end prematurely with a broken ankle in week four and finished the season on injured reserve.
Heading into the 2018 season, Carson picked up where he left off and had a solid season, ranking fifth in rushing yards with 1,151, and tied for seventh in the NFL with nine touchdowns.
In the 2019 season, many fantasy owners were expecting Carson to share the load with Rashaad Penny in their run-heavy offensive system. It didn’t turn out that way.
In the nine games they shared the backfield, Carson out carried Penny by 93 more attempts or just over ten carries per game. There was only one game that Penny had more attempts. In Week 12, Penny would carry the rock six more times, but that was after Carson fumbled.
The 2019 season started well for Carson, as he was a top 10 RB for most of the season. He played in 15 games, rushed 278 times for 1,230 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, with seven touchdowns. Carson also added 37 receptions for 266 yards and two more scores.
Two things caused Carson issues in 2019. One was an issue with fumbles, as he had seven total while losing four of them. The second issue is a fractured hip he sustained on Christmas Eve, prematurely ending his season.
Let’s review Carson’s injuries that he has suffered in his short career.
In his rookie NFL season (2017), Carson fractured his ankle, which required surgery. Unlike Achilles or ACL injuries/surgeries, ankle injuries/surgeries heal well and don’t particularly bother or restrict the athlete going forward.
Carson did well in his first season back (2018) after fracturing his ankle, he would rush for 1,151 yards on 247 carries, and score nine touchdowns. Carson went from just 49 carries and breaking his ankle to 247 the following season. It is difficult for a running back to return from an ACL or Achilles injury to safely tolerate this large jump in workload. Carson not only did, but he also led the NFL in broken tackles with 39. Impressive!
Carson had arthroscopic knee surgery in May of 2019, likely for a knee scope. The scope cleans up any pieces of a torn meniscus. The meniscus is essentially the shocks for your knee (instead of for a car), and during an arthroscopy/scope the meniscus is cleaned up and removed.Meniscal injuries are super common. The meniscus is essential for the athlete to make his steps, land in weird angles, and when it tears, all the twisting motions become painful. Whenever a person gets into a car, takes the stairs, or walks on uneven surfaces, the meniscus is working overtime. Any tear or fray will put a person in a tremendous amount of pain. Thankfully Carson looked fantastic during the 2019 season until he fractured his hip.
Let’s talk more about this potentially significant injury for Carson. The hip is a ball and socket joint, and they traditionally do not fracture in young people, especially in professional athletes who are only 25. While we will never find out the specific details or get to evaluate the actual images regarding Carson’s injury, but we do know that he was able to avoid surgery, which speaks volumes.
Let me (Dr. Morse) discuss this injury further, as it can get complicated. While not as crazy as Tua Tagovailoa’s hip fracture, Carson’s injury appears to be on the ‘milder’ end (if there is such a thing). Since Carson doesn’t need surgery, which is excellent news, we can speculate a bit about exactly what he suffered.
Carson likely suffered a nondisplaced incomplete fracture of the proximal femur (leg bone), meaning that the bone is not in two (or more) pieces, and looks similar to how it should normally look. Traditionally hip fractures occur from two types of injuries, high-energy trauma in young patients and low-energy falls in older patients.
The top of the femur bone/leg bone has some issues healing in the way that it is shaped, and the fact that it holds so much weight (divide your weight by two), as we traditionally weight-bearing people.
Let’s review data in regards to hip fractures in professional athletes. One study had four professional athletes who suffered femur fractures. Each of these athletes underwent surgery (so Carson’s fracture by comparison is ‘not as severe’) and each of them returned in their respective sports to very high levels.
There were two hockey players, one baseball and one football. Two of the players won Comeback Player of the Year awards, and the football player made the Pro Bowl the following season. So if the athlete fractures their hip, and surgery is recommended, it is not usually career-ending, but each situation is unique.
The amount of stress and loading on the hip is very high, and I am quite surprised that an athlete of his caliber can suffer a hip fracture, and the medical team decided that it was in his best interest to not undergo surgery.
Since surgery wasn’t recommended, it can be deduced that Carson most likely suffered what is known as a femoral neck stress fracture. The injury is not a very common form of a stress fracture in athletes, as stress fractures of the hip only makes up 3% of the total stress fractures. If not properly treated, the hip can lose blood flow, something that is known as avascular necrosis, which in turn usually leads to a hip replacement at a very young age (30?).
The good news is that Carson’s injury was caught immediately and appears to have been treated appropriately (only time will tell). These traditionally occur in long-distance, marathon runners and military trainees (repetitive marching). They are much more common in female than male athletes.
Carson likely underwent X-rays, then a CAT scan, and an MRI to fully evaluate the injury to the ligaments, cartilage and tendons. The decision that the bone would not need a screw or surgery after likely seeing that there were no significant fractures and pieces out of place.
Carson likely sustained what is known as a compression fracture with less than 50% of the total femoral neck. Let’s briefly review what he is going to go through after his injury in terms of rehabilitation. Most athletes take about 6 to 8 weeks to start walking without crutches, but some can take up to 14 weeks.
The lower-limb activity should not begin until there is clear evidence of fracture healing on both imaging and clinically, and the patient should be pain-free with full activity before returning to play.
The time frame ranges from 12 to 28 weeks for a return to play. Carson will likely undergo X-rays every two to four weeks, and intermittent MRIs as well. They will be checking for the healing of the bone and make sure that the blood flow is still good. They will try to prevent a situation like what happened to Bo Jackson, who likely suffered a similar injury.
While I do not believe Carson is out of the woods yet, the reports have been positive. Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer feels that both Carson and Penny will return in 2020.
In 2020, Carson will team up with Carlos Hyde, Penny, and rookie DeeJay Dallas who they picked up in the fourth round. Hyde, Penny, and Dallas will get opportunities, as the Seahawks are going to want Carson to stay healthy and plug up those fumbling issues. Even so, this is still Carson’s backfield.
Ideally Carson should continue to push around 1,200 yards and 4.5 yards per carry which is about his average over the last two seasons, but I’m (Dr. Morse) concerned his hip won’t allow him to do that.
The offensive line is problematic and will have three new starters. Therefore, cohesion will be lacking. B.J. Finney is at center, with Mike Iupati and rookie, third-round selection Damien Lewis at guard. Duane Brown and Brandon Shell are at tackle for a group that runs a gap-power offense.
Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Phillip Dorsett, and rookie Freddie Swain (6th round) will be essential in moving this offense. Maybe they can get something out of Greg Olsen and Will Dissly if they can stay healthy. If not, rookie Colby Parkinson (4th round) may see some action earlier than planned.
Sports Injury Predictor has not calculated their analysis on Carson yet but it should be done over the next couple of weeks.
Given what we know about hip stress-fractures, serving as the ‘bellcow’ in a high-volume running back in an offense that wants to run a lot, I (Dr. Morse) am concerned about Carson’s future in the NFL.
My risk score for Carson is 7 out of 10, in the high category. I (Dr. Morse) personally won’t be drafting him. I am concerned about his hip and that he may struggle as a result. I also see him as a very high risk for re-injury. I hope that his team doctors evaluated and looked into his Vitamin D level, which can correlate with fractures and can still be low even in high-level athletes. While this is an easy fix, but it also needs to be identified before it can be addressed.
Entering the 2020 season, many players have the upside of Carson, but with a much lower risk. Save yourself the trouble and draft someone else, unless you happen to get Carson at an incredible price. Carson is still an RB2, but you should start shopping for him after the first 14 running backs are off the board.Injury Risk: High. 7/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Dec 22, 2019||Inguinal Hip Fracture||Carson avoided surgery after his season-ending hip fracture in week 16 against the Cardinals|