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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Doctor says Tom Brady's left knee looks good

Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who reconstructed the knee, likes the way Brady is stepping into his throws in the face of an oncoming pass rush.

August 30, 2009|SAM FARMER

The extent of Tom Brady's shoulder injury isn't known -- or the New England Patriots aren't saying, at least -- but the doctor who reconstructed his left knee said things look very good on that front.

"I know where we are with this thing, I know how far he's come, and I know how his knee feels not only to me but to him," Dr. Neal ElAttrache said in a phone interview Saturday. "All those things are extremely reassuring, and I couldn't be happier about that."

ElAttrache was watching the broadcast of Friday's exhibition game between New England and Washington, so he saw the end of the first half when Brady was crunched to the turf by Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The quarterback landed awkwardly on his throwing shoulder and shortly after was shown on the bench wincingly windmilling his arm.

"The good signs were that he was moving it right afterward," said ElAttrache, who spoke to Brady later that night but declined to give any specifics on what his condition might be. "Sore shoulder" was the team's official diagnosis.

Asked for an assessment based strictly on what he observed on TV, ElAttrache said: "No one had to do any sort of maneuver or manipulation to help his shoulder feel better, which would indicate there was no dislocation or anything like that. But really the next day and further tests tell the story, and how the player feels in the upcoming days. I don't know right now if I can add much more than that."

As for the knee, the doctor likes everything he's seen so far, especially the way Brady is stepping into his throws in the face of an oncoming pass rush.

"He's been able to do that very quickly, even from the first game that he played," said ElAttrache, who specializes in sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. "It looked like he had no hesitation doing it. I had my hunch that he was going to be able to do that quite well just knowing how he was approaching the whole thing mentally. But you never know that until they're really coming at you.

"So watching him move in the pocket was one thing. The other thing that indicated he had confidence and wanted to show that confidence was when he called his own number in that first game and ran the ball.

"I think he did it to prove that it wasn't an issue. Knowing him the way I do, I think that was a message that he was sending saying, 'If there's any questions left, let me answer them.' Then he went ahead and did that."

Although emphasizing that he loves watching Brady play -- and he watches every game -- ElAttrache said he holds his breath on each snap.

"I'm sitting on the edge of my seat, basically every play," he said. "The guy plays a dangerous game. And I think that just like his mom and dad are sitting on the edge of their seat every play, and most likely were doing that even before his injuries, it has a whole new meaning for me having been through this with him. So I have a keen interest in almost every play."

Booting stereotypes

David Buehler has embarrassed the competition before. DeAngelo Smith wasn't the first victim.

The two Dallas Cowboys rookies staged a 50-yard race after a practice this month, and Buehler -- a kicker -- beat the free-agent defensive back.

"I beat him off the line, and the rest is history," said Buehler, a fifth-round pick from USC who is freakishly strong and fast for his position.

Even though they already have a Pro Bowl kicker in Nick Folk, the Cowboys couldn't resist drafting Buehler to handle kickoffs -- they were the only team not to record a touchback last season -- and maybe some work on punt-return and punt-coverage teams.

Buehler created a major buzz at the scouting combine when he knocked out 25 repetitions of 225 on the bench press (two more than Trojans linebacker Rey Maualuga) and ran the 40 in 4.57 seconds (faster than the other two star Trojans linebackers, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews).

All this came of little surprise at USC, where people grew accustomed to Buehler's feats of athleticism. At various times, he was a reserve fullback and safety, and played on some coverage teams.

As for now, he's focused on doing whatever he's told by Cowboys coaches, soaking in what he can from Folk and one day becoming a full-time kicker.

But in the meantime, he's enjoying the variety of his current job, though he has yet to experience what could be quite strange: hitting a fellow kicker.

Wouldn't that be a special teamer's version of cannibalism?

"I guess you could say that," Buehler said with a laugh. "It would be kind of fun, though."

Anywhere but here

What does the future hold for former No. 1 pick Alex Smith?

He officially lost San Francisco's quarterback battle last week when Shaun Hill was named the starter. But Mike Martz, the 49ers' offensive coordinator last season, thinks Smith has what it takes to play somewhere in the NFL.

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