Falcons rookie guard Chris Lindstrom had surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot Wednesday.
“Chris had has surgery,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He did that (Wednesday) and is doing well. They are happy with the procedure that was done. Now, we’ll start the next process for him.”
Lindstrom, making his NFL debut Sunday, left the game against Minnesota in the third quarter and did not return.
Quinn announced Monday that Lindstrom had a broken foot. He was placed on injured reserve and is eligible to return this season. Lindstrom’s availability will depend on how fast he heals.
“More likely than not in football players, it is the Jones fracture,” said Mark C. Drakos, a foot and ankle surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. “Which usually means surgery and usually takes to 10 to 12 weeks before they are playing football again.”
However, the injury could heal faster.
“He should be able to get back and play,” said Kenneth Jung, a foot and ankle surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, who’s a foot consultant to the Los Angeles Rams. “Minimum, I would say six to eight weeks or so. That’s the amount of time that the bone usually takes to heal.”
A player must stay on injured reserve for eight games before he’s eligible to return, so the earliest Lindstrom could return would be Game 10 against Carolina.
Last season, linebacker Deion Jones suffered a broken foot in the season opener and returned to play the final five games of the season.
The fifth metatarsal bone is the outside bone that extends to the little toe.
“The problem is the bone is important when you twist your foot,” Drakos said. “It’s important for stability. If you are a linemen and you are planting or cutting, you can have pain. It’s not one that you can really play with well. It would cause problems.”
Lindstrom, who was selected with the 14th pick in the draft, was the Falcons’ starting right guard. He was one of the key new players to the offensive line, a unit the team wanted to improve for the 2019 season. Jamon Brown, a free-agent signee, will take his place in the lineup.
“Some people heal faster than others,” Drakos said. “Some people actually can even re-break it after its fixed. It’s a small bone, but it tolerates loads from 300-pound linemen. Usually, once you fix it, it has a 90-plus percent chance of healing and never causing any permanent problems, but there is small chance that you can re-break it. Most people get back the same season. It’s not a season-ender or a career-ender.”
The Falcons do not make their medical staff available to the media. However, it’s likely Lindstrom had a screw placed in the bone.
“They are trying to stabilize the bone,” Jung said. “(The screw) allows for it to be able to heal, and then obviously once it’s healed, the metal is in there to back up the healing.”
That outside foot bone is susceptible to injury.
“It’s on the outer part of the foot, so if you can imagine pushing off or going side to side, you’ll load that bone up and anything that you do up on the balls of your feet,” Jung said. “Pretty much, any athletic activity you’re up on the balls of your feet to do anything with agility. So, when you push off or move side to side you’ll load that bone.”
The screw will have to stay in the foot.
“Typically, you leave the metal in forever or at least until they are done playing,” Jung said. “It’s usually put in, in a fashion where you can leave it in forever.”
Lindstrom is expected to make a full recovery.
“Success rate, you’d expect it to be 100 percent,” Jung said. “It’s just a matter of getting the bone to heal. So, you’d expect him to heal it. It’s very high success rate. You’d expect him to be able to continue his career without any problems.”
If the Falcons are in the playoff hunt, they could get a boost from Lindstrom’s return.
“It’s reasonable,” Jung said. “Totally reasonable. The playoffs are four or five months away.”
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