WILL FULLER V
Bottom line: Expect return prior to the start of team activities following sports hernia surgery. Data supports full return to level of pre-injury performance, but with decreased career length and number of games played per year after the injury. Additional performance and durability concerns exist due to his recurrent soft tissue injuries and prior ACL tear.
Injury: Sports hernia
Date of Injury: 12/21/19
Date of Surgery: ~1/25/20
Analysis in Detail:
Return to Play
Return rates in NFL players undergoing sports hernia repair are over 90%, with time to return averaging 2-4 months. Fuller should be cleared well before the start of camp.
Expect return to pre-hernia level of performance based on outcomes from two studies in NFL players. He sustained the injury in Week 16 and played one playoff game afterwards, so his 2019 regular season statistics are unaffected by playing through pain from the hernia. Also notable, ACL tears are associated with at least 3 years of decreased NFL player performance, and Fuller is entering season 2 post-injury.
Career length tends to be shorter in NFL players who undergo sports hernia repair and there may be a negative association with number of games played each year as well. On the other hand, season 2 following ACL surgery is associated with a return to pre-injury frequency of game participation. Given his overall history Fuller has significant durability concerns, but we expect him to be healthy during at least the short-term.
Image Source: KA Sports Photos, CC-BY-SA-2.0