FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2018, file photo, Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman
Photo: 24
Photo: 24

Freeman set to have sports hernia surgery on Thursday in Philadelphia 

William C. Meyers, is one of the leaders in core/sports hernia injury surgery and founded the institute.  

The Falcons placed Freeman on injured reserve on Tuesday, with a hope that he could return later in the season. 

“It’s the lower abdomen muscle or the abductor muscle below the pelvis,” said Brian M. Schulz, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and team doctor for the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. “Traditionally, doctors will either directly repair it or and use like a mesh to reinforce it. It really depends on the preference of the surgeon who is performing the procedure.”

Other running backs who have returned from the surgery include Oakland’s Marshawn Lynch, Washington’s Adrian Peterson and former NFL running back Arian Foster. Peterson played six games with the injury and nearly broke the league’s rushing record in 2012. 

Other NFL players to have core surgery include Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce (twice). 

The earliest Freeman could return to action is for Game 15 against Carolina.

Recovery from core/sports hernia surgery is four to six weeks. 

“If you are conservative about it, the soonest will be four to six weeks,” Schulz said. “Some people may take a little longer. It really depends on the extent of the injury. Going faster may be possible, but then you are risking a little more because the tissues haven’t healed as well.”

Core/sports hernia surgeries are more common now in professional sports. 

“They are able to get the players back very quickly and they are having good results,” Schulz said.

Meyers is one of the leaders in the field. 

“There are several people around the country that do a lot of these and he’s one of them,” Schulz said. “I don’t know if they’ve advanced their technique as much, but they’ve had good results. The more people are aware, more athletes are having them done because they are diagnosed more frequently.”

Freeman played in the season opener and suffered what was reported as a knee bruise against the Eagles. He missed the next three games before playing against the Steelers. He rushed eight times for 32 yards, but didn’t look explosive on a 20-yard run after he got in the open field. 

After the Pittsburgh game, Freeman got an MRI which revealed the tear in the core area. It was originally reported as a foot injury.

Freeman didn’t play in the next game, last week’s win over the Buccaneers, as it was disclosed as a groin injury on Friday. It was listed as a foot injury on the previous injury reports. 

The rushing attack has struggled as Freeman, the team's leading rusher each of the last three years, has been injured.

The Falcons are averaging 86 yards rushing per game, which ranks 29th in the league. 

Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith have taken over most of the carries, but have been ineffective mostly because of poor run blocking. 

After signing a six-year, $43 million contract in Aug of 2017, this is the second straight season Freeman has missed time with injuries. He also missed two games in 2017 with a concussion before suffering a knee injury in the regular season finale against Carolina. 

After running for more than 1,000 yards in 2015 and 2016, Freeman finished with 865 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, along with 36 receptions, last season.

In his two games this season, Freeman, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has rushed 14 times for 68 yards and caught five passes for 23 yards. 

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