Jeremy Lane has returned to practice this week for the first time since he sustained a compound fracture of his arm plus a torn knee ligament at the end of his interception return in the first quarter of the Super Bowl. The Seahawks’ versatile, playmaking nickel defensive back and special-teams standout could play Sunday night against deep-passing Arizona, though coach Pete Carroll said the team isn’t sure yet.
He is still on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Seattle (4-4) would have to release someone from its 53-man roster and activate Lane onto it by Saturday afternoon for him to play in the key game against the NFC West-leading Cardinals (6-2).
“I thought I’ve been ready for two weeks,” he said.
He’s wearing a white sleeve over his arm. It’s not for fashion. It’s not for bracing the surgical repair; his arm is fully healed.
He wants to hide the scars on his arm. And in his mind.
“Brings me back bad memories,” he said.
See, Lane’s injury -- and recovery -- were more surreal than we all knew.
“Crazy,” he said. “Words can’t even explain.
“It makes me mad and happy at the same time, because it was such a big play -- but was such a sad moment.”
He snapped his fingers and said: “Just like that.”
Lane said Wednesday he felt he was too close to the goal line -- he intercepted Tom Brady’s pass just a step into the end zone -- to take a knee for a touchback instead of embarking on his fateful return Feb. 1 in Super Bowl 49. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman hit him along the sideline, taking Lane’s legs out from under him. Lane braced his fall with his left arm, which snapped at a 90-degree angle while bearing all his weight.
He said he’s watched the play at least 25 times. Sounds like a personal coping mechanism.
“Oh, I watched it all the way to the end. I had to see it,” he said. “I just wanted to know what happened.”
Then he smiled.
“Plus,” he added, “I wanted to see the interception.”
Lane’s arm was broken so dangerously and in so many places, he was rushed from the field immediately into surgery at a Phoenix-area hospital during the long Super Bowl, with its extended halftime show and mega-million-dollar television commericals.
“When I woke up, we were on the 1-yard line,” he said.
Lane then ran his index finger over his throat in a terminal, slicing motion thinking about Seattle’s final, fateful play of the Super Bowl and added: “Say no more.”
After he saw through groggy, anesthesia-affected eyes Russell Wilson’s interception at the goal line that gave New England the title instead of Seattle, Lane did want many of you wished you could have then.
“I saw that play, and I went back to sleep,” he said. “When I woke up I was like, ‘Was that a dream?’ And then ... I mean, I don’t want to talk about that.”
Lane had to have a second surgery on his arm a month later, to clean out an infection. He believes he got that from the turf at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
It probably didn’t help Lane that his wound had to combat more than the germs of natural grass. The NFL had caked that grass in green paint for the Super Bowl, to make the field look pretty for the worldwide TV audience.
Soon after that surgery to eliminate the arm infection, he was shopping in a Seattle-area grocery store when his knee buckled. That is how he learned Edelman’s hit also tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. A week or so later, deep into March, he had the surgery to reconstruct the knee. That’s the injury that has slowed his return to the field, to more than nine months later.
“I feel like if we would have known right away, my process coming back probably would have been shorter than what it was, just because I had another month setback,” Lane said. “And my arm set me back a few times, too.
“It’s all good. I made it through. I’m back on the football field. Can’t complain now.”
▪ Carroll all but announced WR Paul Richardson will make his season debut Sunday. "We are going to jump him right back in,” the coach said of the second-round pick from 2014. “He's had enough time now.” The speedy Richardson is still also on the PUP list following reconstructive knee surgery in late January. The obvious move would be to activate Richardson into the roster spot that will be open after Ricardo Lockette goes on season-ending injured reserve.
▪ Carroll said he expects DE Cliff Avril and TE Luke Willson to play against Arizona. They got ankle injuries in the previous game, the win at Dallas Nov. 1.
▪ All-Pro CB Richard Sherman keeps saying this showdown with the Cardinals isn’t any bigger than any other game, because every game in the NFL is tough. He pointed to everyone’s surprise that the malfunctioning 49ers beat 6-2 Atlanta last weekend. “If you had bet your last dollar on that,” Sherman said Wednesday, “you’re broke.”
▪ Great story about Lockette’s exit from Dallas, where he had neck surgery last week inside Baylor Medical Center: