New Orleans Saints’ Reggie Bush had microfracture surgery on injured knee

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune January 06, 2009 11:00PM

Reggie Bush’s knee surgery was more serious than the Saints initially indicated last month, but General Manager Mickey Loomis said the team still expects the running back to be ready for minicamp in early June.

Loomis said Bush had a microfracture procedure performed on his left knee after he was placed on injured reserve in mid-December. Bush’s injury initially was reported as a sprained medial collateral ligament, which doesn’t usually require surgery, but Coach Sean Payton indicated last week that Bush had an arthroscopic procedure performed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

Loomis did not give details about the surgery, but he said it was not a “major” procedure.

“I wouldn’t want to call it minor, because he’s got a pretty significant period of rehab time, ” Loomis said. “But at the end of it, he shouldn’t have any issues.”

Bush was not reached for comment.

It’s hard to predict a recovery timetable on microfracture surgeries, because some are more elaborate than others, but they have become more common and effective in recent years. Typically, several small holes are drilled into the knee to promote cartilage growth.

Saints tailback Deuce McAllister had a microfracture procedure performed on his right knee in September 2007 while also undergoing an anterior cruciate ligament repair in his left knee. McAllister, who was on the field for the start of training camp in July, indicated that his right knee recovered faster than the left. The left knee continued to swell at times throughout the season.

Bush has had a series of issues with his left knee the past two seasons. He missed the final four games of the 2007 season with a torn posterior cruciate ligament, which required a couple months of recovery.

Then, he experienced swelling and soreness in the knee in training camp this past summer — a condition described as a “bone bruise, ” which was aggravated against Tampa Bay in Week 1. Bush then suffered a torn meniscus at Carolina in Week 7, which required arthroscopic surgery and sidelined him for four games. Finally, he suffered the latest injury in Week 15 at Chicago.

None of the injuries were too serious, but the repeated trauma to the knee is concerning, especially for a player who relies so much on his speed and explosiveness.

Loomis expressed high hopes for Bush while discussing the team’s general outlook Tuesday. He said the Saints were “clearly” close to tapping into Bush’s full potential before he suffered the injury in Week 7.

At that point, Bush led the Saints with 660 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns, including three punt returns for scores. He was effective, but inconsistent, after returning from the injury in Week 13.

“He made some spectacular punt returns and some spectacular explosive plays on offense, and that’s what we envisioned for him, ” Loomis said. “And he was feeling good about his season, we were feeling good about his season, then he had a setback with this injury.

“But the good news is that the injury has been repaired, and he had a good repair surgically, and the prognosis going forward is very positive. So, our expectation is he’ll have a good offseason and pick up where he left off at the beginning of next year.”

Asked if the Saints had figured out the best way to use Bush, Loomis said he thinks the third-year running back’s unique role will continue to evolve. He was paired more often with tailback Pierre Thomas this season.

“I don’t want to say that. I don’t want to limit ourselves to that, because maybe there’s some new things we can do, ” Loomis said. “Maybe as he develops, he brings some new wrinkles to his game. I wouldn’t want to limit him.

“I think what Reggie has proven is that on the football field there’s not too many things he can’t do, although clearly he hasn’t been the traditional tailback that many people want to judge him by.”

NO DECISION ON COACHING STAFF: Loomis and Payton remained non-committal on the future of defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and the rest of the coaching staff Tuesday.

“Sean and I will talk about all our coaches’ evaluations this week, offensively and defensively, ” Loomis said.

The entire coaching staff returned to work Tuesday to begin thorough player evaluations after assistants were given the week off. Loomis and Payton also took some time off during the past week.

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