- Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb will have surgery on his left knee on Friday.
- Chubb has reportedly torn a medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee.
- The timeline for recovery from MCL surgery is six to nine months.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb is expected to have surgery on his left knee on Friday. The procedure will be performed by Browns’ team physician Dr. James Voos at University Hospital. Chubb suffered the season ending injury in Cleveland’s 26-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 19. Chubb took a blow to his knee in the second quarter and had to be carted off the field. Initial reports speculated a disastrous ACL tear in his left knee, but further medical evaluation has revealed a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL). Though still a significant setback, an MCL tear is generally less severe and has a more optimistic recovery timeline than an ACL injury.
An MCL tear affects the ligament that runs along the inner part of the knee, connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone. It plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee and controlling its side-to-side movement. Unlike the ACL, which is critical for rotational stability, the MCL is less complex in function but still highly important, especially for a running back like Chubb, whose cutting ability and lateral agility are key to his playing style.
The exact scope of Chubb’s surgery is unknown but what is apparent is that it should repair the damaged ligament. Once completed, Chubb will begin an intense rehabilitation regimen. Post-surgery, his knee will likely be immobilized for several weeks, with progressive exercises introduced to regain strength and mobility. He’ll be working with a team of specialists, including orthopedic surgeons and physiotherapists, to ensure a smooth and effective recovery. The Browns will oversee the process due in large part to their significant investment in Chubb–he’s currently playing under a three year, $36 million USD contract with $20 million guaranteed and a $12 million USD signing bonus.
Chubb is a tough guy to replace and downright impossible to replace with a single player. The Browns are losing more than a workhorse back; they’re losing an emotional and athletic leader of their team. Backup running backs and committee approaches can replace his output to some extent, but the ripple effects will be felt throughout the offensive schemes and even on the morale of the team.
If there is some good news from the situation, it’s that Chubb did not tear his ACL. The rehab timeline for an MCL tear is generally more forgiving than that of an ACL tear. Had Chubb torn his ACL, we might not have seen him on the field until the 2024 season, but with an MCL tear, he’s looking at a more manageable 6-9 month recovery period. This means that, optimistically, he could return for the 2023 NFL season’s training camp, or at the very least, for the regular season.