Getting injured in the offseason is never a good thing. Getting injured during the NFL lockout with the uncertainty of how it will be handled is even worse.
For Buccaneers long snapper Andrew Economos that was the dilemma he faced last spring when during an unsanctioned workout with teammates he felt the tear of an Achilles' tendon.
“We were doing a training with some of the guys, like Kregg Lumpkin and few that aren’t here anymore," Economos said. "And we were just doing footwork drills shuffling around a dummy, then when we got around the dummy were turning and running. We weren’t doing it real intense. And it just blew up on me.”
Many thoughts immediately came to mind as he hobbled off the turf that morning, and none were good.
“That was the scariest part (it happening during the lockout),” Economos said. “Being involved in a sport you just immediately go to the trainers. Even if you get a cold or something. That’s the first thing that went through my head was, ‘What do I do now?’
When the NFL lockout began Economos made a wise financial decision.
“Fortunately for me I decided to keep my benefits. Federal law gives us the right to pay for our own benefits (COBRA),” Economos said. “I thought about letting it go and just doing another policy. But for this COBRA was the best thing for this injury and surgery.
“But it makes you appreciate being part of a team and an organization that takes care of all that for you.”
After the injury the seventh-year veteran went to his local personal physician and had an MRI confirming what he initially feared. Economos then went to Atlanta and saw, well known in the athletic world, Dr. Marvin Royster, who has worked with the Atlanta Braves and Falcons. Economos and Dr. Royster went over the different repair options before deciding on one that isn’t very common.
“My repair is a little bit out of the ordinary,” Economos said. “They took a hamstring tendon from a cadaver and kind of intertwined it in with my tendon. They took the tendon and kind of cinch-knotted it together. My doctor used the Roman sandal analogy. It is twice as thick as the other one. He knew he wanted to make it strong because I have to stop 300-pounders from running me over.”
What normally takes a year, Economos’ rehab and recovery has taken only half that time.
“My position helps a little bit,” Economos said. “I don’t have to plant on it as hard as say a defensive back or receiver or running back. I was able to get my stance back after like two months. It has felt strong in the just past month and a half and I’ve been pretty much pain free.”
With the release of rookie long snapper Christian Yount, Economos will be activated to the 53-man roster sometime before Sunday. Economos is looking forward to stepping onto the turf at New Orleans Sunday for his first game action in 11 months, and is thankful for the Buccaneers' organization standing behind him.
“I can't say enough about how the organization from Mark Dominik to Coach Morris to (special teams) coach Dwayne Stukes – they have had so much faith in me from he beginning of this – I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate how they treated me. I couldn’t ask for anything better. Now I just have to go out there and prove they made the right decision.
“This place has been great to me and I want to be great for them.”