NFC North: Stephania Bell

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers had concerns about Aaron Rodgers' strained left calf going into the regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions 10 days ago, then their anxiety isn't likely to be lessened between now and Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Rodgers
Even though Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show that he's not worried about the possibility of a recurrence, the Packers probably are. Such is the nature of soft-tissue injuries.

"They will not know for sure regardless of how he is," said ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell, a physical therapist who is a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. "Even if you're completely asymptomatic and even if you go through all the motions in practice and you're fine, you're never able to replicate what you’re doing across 60 minutes in a game.

"Until you test it, until you are in the activity, have gotten through it and then looked back and said, 'Hey I made it through without aggravating it,' do you know that you could do that."

Rodgers was expected to be examined Wednesday morning by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie, and then the Packers will decide how much -- if at all -- Rodgers will practice this week.

Rodgers first sustained the injury in Week 16 against Tampa Bay. At that time, it was a medial gastrocnemius strain, which is on the inside of the muscle. He was limited in practice the following week and then strained it again but that time on the lateral, or outside, part of the muscle against the Lions, forcing him to come out of the game for two series.

"Even if he has a little discomfort, that doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't get through the game and be just fine," Bell said. "And vice versa. He could be completely symptom-free, be feeling fine and move just so in the game and it could flare up. There's really not any good way to tell unfortunately."

Matthew Stafford up close

June, 15, 2011
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Tuesday’s SportsNation chat included a question from Rick T, who wondered if I had a first-hand account of the reported upper-body work Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has accomplished this offseason. I didn’t attend any of the Lions’ recent workouts, but fortuitously, the NFL Network has posted video of Stafford throwing, workout and participating in a mean tug-of-war competition.

Check out the video here. I’m not exactly an expert in physique transformations, so I’ll let you be the judge.

Earlier: ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell said Stafford’s stronger upper body could help protect against future injuries, but the biggest factor for Stafford’s prognosis is the surgery he finally agreed to have in January.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Monday morning, we pointed out the two remaining obstacles to Brett Favre signing with Minnesota. ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell continues to emphasize one of them.

 Favre

In an appearance Monday on ESPN's "First Take," Bell said evidence from the outside suggests Favre could have more damage in his right shoulder than previously revealed.

First off, let's make clear that Bell has neither examined Favre nor had access to his medical records. But based on her experience in treating torn biceps tendons, Bell suggested that Favre should be able to throw relatively pain-free -- although perhaps not at full strength -- at this point in his rehabilitation. The fact that he is not, as reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Ed Werder, means he could be facing additional problems in the shoulder.

Bell: "I think the biggest thing [the report] tells us is that the biceps tendon is likely not the only structure responsible for his shoulder pain. In an almost 40-year-old quarterback who has been throwing overhead for years, you're bound to have wear and tear throughout the shoulder. And even if the biceps is largely responsible for the pain that limited him last year, biceps injuries usually happen in conjunction with other things like rotator cuff problems."

Bell said the surgery will give Favre a "litmus test" to determine how much of his pain can be attributed to the biceps injury, and how much of it -- if any -- has other origins. Regardless, Favre should know how effective the surgery was within a few weeks' time.

Here's the video of Bell's appearance:

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

On the heels of Sunday's ESPN.com report, I'd put us at FavreCon 3 on a scale of 1-5. Not bad considering it's only the second week of June.

As you might have noticed Sunday, Chris Mortensen and Ed Werder reported that retired quarterback Brett Favre had surgery sometime last month to release a partially torn biceps tendon in his right arm. His decision to consent to surgery illustrates just how serious he is about returning to the field and playing for Minnesota in 2009.

Monday morning, Peter King of Sports Illustrated suggests: "It'll be an upset if Favre doesn't attempt a comeback with Minnesota now." I agree. To me, there are only two obstacles left:

  1. If, for some unexpected reason, a relatively routine surgery doesn't take.
  2. If, as ESPN injury consultant Stephania Bell has said, we come to find out there was more damage in the shoulder than just a tear of the biceps tendon.

As always, we'll keep you updated. For now, let's catch up on the weekend in the NFC North:

  • Asked on Friday about Favre's status with the team, Minnesota coach Brad Childress said he wasn't thinking about the issue. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune looks back on that quote.
  • Former Vikings offensive lineman Ron Yary: "If the Vikings would have had Brett Favre during the time of my career, we would have been 7-0 in Super Bowls. Absolutely." Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke with Yary.
  • Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett is playing for his fifth defensive coordinator in seven years with the Packers, notes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Barnett: "I think I've flourished differently in each scheme I've been in. I sometimes like the challenge of learning a new defense, because I think it keeps you more focused."
  • Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson on the Lions' offense: "[O]nly time will tell. You can talk right now, but we still have to go out there and do it on Sundays. When that time comes we'll be able to go out there and show everybody what we're talking about." Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press reports.
  • Wearing a No. 6 jersey to honor Al Kaline, Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw out the first pitch Sunday at Detroit's Comerica Park, notes Monarrez.
  • Chicago defensive lineman Tommie Harris was paid a $6.67 million bonus this spring and is due another $2.5 million bonus next June, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Favre's plan 'puzzling'

May, 15, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

What exactly is going on with Brett Favre's partially torn biceps injury? Stephania Bell, a certified orthopedic clinical specialist and ESPN consultant, has her doubts.

Bell has not examined Favre but said the circumstances surrounding his pursuit of non-surgical treatment are "puzzling." In the video below, Bell suggests Favre and his doctors might not be certain that the sole cause of his pain last season the tendon. If that's the case, there could be a chance that surgery to complete the tear would not fully alleviate the problems he had last season.

Delaying surgery in favor of exercise, Bell said, could be a "test" to determine if the sole issue is the biceps or if he might have other damage in his upper arm/shoulder as well. Here's how Bell put it Thursday night:

"What this development suggests is that there may indeed be more than one cause of pain in Favre's shoulder. The biceps may be a big cause of symptoms (or even the biggest) but with [arthroscopic surgery] being such a simple solution for an isolated biceps situation, his apparent reluctance to proceed implies that a 'pain-free' outcome is not guaranteed. If it ruptures independently [through exercise], then he can assess, without surgery, just what 'percent' of his symptoms are due to the biceps."

Again, very few people have seen Favre's actual medical records. But there seem to be two possibilities: Favre either has an extreme aversion to surgery or the condition of his shoulder could be more complex than currently believed.

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