Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly has apparently suffered a serious foot injury that will require surgery. Based on reports, he suffered a stress fracture in the 5th metatarsal, although this has not been confirmed. If this is in fact the injury, the main issue with injuries to this specific bone is that it has notoriously poor blood supply and does not heal well at all. Think of a plant that is starving for food and water. Its never going to grow without these vital nutrients; well the bone is the same way, and unfortunately this specific bone is notorious for poor non-healing fracture because of this poor blood supply (this is the same location as the dreaded ‘Jones Fracture’). Stress fractures are common in the bones of the foot because of a combination of poor blood supply and usually a dramatic increase in activity over a short period of time. Think of someone who runs typically 1 mile a couple times a week, and then have them run 5 miles a day for a month. The bones in the foot often struggle with that huge increase in demand very quickly, and when not given proper time to rest, can initially form a stress reaction (which in the shin is typically called a ‘shin splint’). If the athlete doesn’t listen to their body and continues to run on that injured foot, this reaction can continue to evolve into a stress fracture. If the running persists without adequate rest and sometimes immobilization, then the stress fracture evolves into a complete fracture.
Why is a stress fracture in a Center’s foot so important to the Indianapolis Colts? Well as you can tell by this Tweet, Ryan Kelly has played a very important role for Frank Gore and the Colts’ running game. Last season Gore used the holes provided by Kelly by far more than any other hole (105 runs vs. 43 runs), where he accumulated many more yards than any other hole he ran through as well (459 yards vs. 133 yards). Kelly’s dominance and reliability is going to be missed for likely 6-9 weeks, which means that the Colts running game is going to have to figure out how effective Kelly’s replacement will be. This is further compounded by the fact that as of yet, franchise-QB Andrew Luck has yet to formally practice with the team this preseason. Luck is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and although the team is adamant that he will be back by Week 1. Without getting any real practice in beforehand, the first couple weeks of the season may be a little dicey. Between having to work with a new Center, not spending much time building rapport with his WRs and TEs, Luck may struggle a bit out the gate. So yes, unfortunately this injury is more significant that just a simple stress fracture in a foot.