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Chase Minnifield slowed by microfracture surgery

By Derek Harper | The Sports Xchange/

By Frank Cooney

Former Virginia defensive back Chase Minnifield is recovering slower than expected from his January knee arthroscopy, which reports indicate included a microfracture procedure, but he expects it will lead to an improved final result.

"I am getting better every day and I only have trace swelling," Minnifield told "My doctor, James Andrews, made a report that all NFL teams received. They know. I am not 100 percent, but I will be."

Minnifield would not confirm he had microfracture during his January 3 knee scope, but said he was familiar with the procedure. Multiple league sources confirm that medical reports said he had the procedure. Team reactions have been mixed. Minnifield, once projected as a second round draft prospect, has dropped two or more rounds on some boards and at least one team said he is off their draft list now.

"We know this procedure is designed to enhance recovery and make the knee more sound," reported one team executive. "We also know it takes time."

Despite Minnifield's desire for a rapid recovery, studies on NBA players who had microfracture indicate that a slow, deliberate rehabilitation yields the best results, although some individuals respond quicker than others.

Microfracture is a procedure developed in the late 1980s by famed Vail, Colorado orthopedic surgeon Richard Steadman. Dr. Andrews, whose clinic attended Minnifield, advocates a version of that procedure. It is an arthroscopic procedure that is done in conjunction with a traditional clean-out, which is what Minnifield said he had.

The procedure includes creating microscopic fractures or holes in the underlying bone to encourage the development of new cartilage, which cushions bone-to-bone contact. Depending on variations of the procedure, blood, bone marrow and/or stem cells are introduced to create a super clot in the fractures with the goal of establishing new cartilage to help cushion and stabilize the knee.

The difficult decision to have the surgery on Jan. 3 was made by Chase and his father, Frank, whose name should be familiar from his Pro Bowl days as a cornerback for the Cleveland Browns (1984-92).

His right knee, which had ACL surgery when he came out of high school, bothered him during the 2011 season.

"We decided it was the right time because I should be fully recovered in time for football season," Minnifield said. "We didn't know exactly how long it would take, but being able to play by the season was an important consideration. But I am frustrated with how long it is taking."

Minnifield was unable to run at the February scouting combine, where it was noted he had swelling. At his own Pro Day in March, his performance disappointed both Minnifield and scouts. His best 40-yard time was 4.63 seconds and his vertical jump was 32 1/2 inches. Minnifield said when he is 100 percent his time would be closer to 4.40 seconds and his vertical at least 36 inches.

Minnifield attended a medical re-check at Indianapolis earlier this month and last week there were multiple reports that he underwent a microfracture procedure when his knee was scoped.

Minnifield was selected All-ACC the last two seasons and in four years he had 151 tackles, 13 interceptions and returned punts.

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