Holt Uses Injury to Refocus on Football
Thursday, June 14, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
For the better part of the past few years, Torry Holtís presence on television has been every bit as strong in the offseason as it has during the regular season.
Whether it be breaking down prospects on the NFL Draft or hawking pizza in a commercial, Holt has been omnipresent around town when he wasnít on the field putting up his usual terrific performances.
But this offseason was different. Holt had to go under the knife for only the second time in his career (he had a scope after the 2003 season), as he opted for surgery caused by torn meniscus in his right knee. That operation opened Holtís eyes and caused him to gain a new perspective.
ďItís actually been good,Ē Holt said. ďMy first eight years in the league, I have been doing a lot of off the field stuff, trying to dibble and dabble in some broadcasting things and dibble and dabble in some different business stuff like that, trying to build my brand.
ďThis year has really given me an opportunity to step back and really refocus on the game of football. Iím excited about that. Iím enjoying the break because I havenít really done anything. Iím just really trying to re-focus on whatís important and thatís football and trying to help this football team win some more championships.Ē
That isnít to say that Holt hasnít been paying attention or hasnít been playing with focus in the past two seasons, but thereís no doubt that Holt wasnít quite himself in 2006. Holt first injured the knee on Oct. 9, 2005 in a home game against Seattle. At the time, the injury cost him two games and a bye week before returning for the rematch with the Seahawks on Nov. 13.
Although Holt was able to play through the pain for the rest of that season, he was admittedly fatigued heading down the stretch. Still, Holt decided against having offseason surgery after that tumultuous season.
ďI feel like I if I rehabbed and prepared and trained and did all of the necessary things, that I could get it strong enough to go out and compete those two years and kind of dodge the knife,Ē Holt said.
He did successfully dodge surgery and rehabbed and worked to get it strong enough to last him for most of last season. But Holt also had some help along the way, receiving some extended breaks during training camp and doing everything possible to stay fresh for the season.
Holt opened the 2006 season with one of his finest starts ever, including his miraculous 67-yard touchdown catch against Seattle on Oct. 15. Soon after, though, Holt started to slow down as teams through multiple coverage looks his way and caused him to scramble for opportunities.
It all came to a head on Dec. 3 against Arizona when Holt went up for a touchdown catch against Cardinalsí safety Robert Griffith. Holt made the play, but took the brunt of the collision as Griffith fell on his knee.
The aggravation of the injury made the final month of the season one of the most difficult of Holtís career as he did his best just to suit up for the final four games.
ďThat point on it really gave me trouble,Ē Holt said. ďI just had to deal with it and try to work out on it and keep some strength on it. That allowed me to really finish up the season.
I didnít quite finish on the note I wanted to.Ē
Of course, Holtís 93 catches for 1,188 yards and 10 touchdowns was nothing to sneeze at, but even Holt admits that it wasnít his best year. He fell just short of his goal of 1,300 receiving yards and broke his record streak in that category.
ďI would say I had a solid season, not what I expected,Ē Holt said. ďI didnít reach the goals that I had set for myself, but I would say it was a pretty solid season based on how I had to play and what I was dealing with.Ē
Holtís performance in the face of adversity impressed coach Scott Linehan, who worked with Holt for the first time last season.
ďYou guys know Torry,Ē Linehan said. ďHeís an unbelievable player, but heís really an unbelievable person. What you hear sometimes isnít really what it is. But perception is reality with him. Heís a big time, high quality, one of the best receivers in the game and itís hard to find a better person. You donít see that as much as youíd like to around the league. Iím proud heís on our team. I admired him before I got here and now that I know him better itís all real and that makes it even more impressive.Ē
After limping his way to the team buses in Minnesota on the seasonís final day, Holt made up his mind that he needed to go ahead with surgery and alter his offseason habits.
Holt decided to skip the Pro Bowl for the first time in four years and underwent the surgery in February. In addition, Holt declined to get involved in some of his usual offseason activities. He didnít do appearances on any NFL Draft shows or make any more commercials.
Holt is continuing in his rehab and was limited in organized team activities during May.
Finally, as June began, he started working his way back on to the field. In this weekís minicamp, Holt was full go but had to remind himself to throttle back a little bit so as not to slow the process.
Finally, by Thursday afternoonís workout, Holt was able to cut loose a little bit and test his knee.
ďI was really excited in how things turned out this final day here,Ē Holt said. ďToday I turned it up a little more than the past couple of days, but Iím excited. I still have some soreness inside where I had the meniscus cleaned up, but thatís going to be there. Itís just a matter of me getting more reps and running more and reintroducing the knee to those types of cuts that I am used to doing. I think I will be fine.Ē
With a little over a month until training camp, Holt will spend most of his time in St. Louis, continuing his rehab and hanging around the training facility. He will host a football clinic for kids near his home in Gibsonville, N.C.
Although the injury was one of the first real setbacks for what, to this point, has been a Hall of Fame caliber career, Holt never looked at it as a shot at his football mortality.
ďI feel like I have a pretty good perspective on this game and life,Ē Holt said. ďBy having this injury didnít transform me, but I knew if I wanted to play next year I needed to focus in on my rehab and my strength and get ready to roll. Iím just trying to honor my end of the deal and thatís to play this contract out with the Rams and see where it goes.Ē
Re: Holt Uses Injury to Refocus on Football
Sweet music to my ears... class act, pro bowler !!