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  • Cadavers' cartilage may save 2 Raiders

    By Bill Soliday

    Friday, June 25, 2004 - ALAMEDA -- Rod Woodson and Barret Robbins are Oakland Raiders whose rsums include having been named to the Pro Bowl as recently as 2002.

    Now whether they will be able to so much as play in 2004 will depend largely on modern medical science -- and no one knows the odds of whether the medicine will take.

    Both underwent unique knee operations in the off-season. Surgery involved cartilage replacement taken from cadavers. It is an operation that has worked with weekend athletes but never with professional athletes -- at least not successfully. Although doctors have performed cadaver ligament replacement surgery, cartilage is different. In the past, when cartilage was gone, it was gone. Now with replacement cartilage there is hope, but to be effective, the new cartilage must flourish and grow once implanted.

    If one were to refer to it as a "last chance" procedure, it wouldn't be a stretch.

    "It's what arthritis is," Woodson said. "Bone on bone. I don't have any cartilage. If this works out, a lot of people are going to have this surgery. It's an aggressive procedure, and it's really the only way to get cartilage back. You never really grow true cartilage back -- you just grow scar tissue cartilage.

    "We're all waiting to see how it works out."

    Bone grating on bone, Robbins struggled last year before finally shutting it down the final month of the season. Matters had gone beyond the point where he feared he might not play again.

    "I knew I wasn't," Robbins said. "When they released me from the hospital before the surgery, they said my knee was basically that of a 70-year old. Hopefully, I've got it down to the low 40s now."

    Neither Woodson nor Robbins participated in the team's three-day minicamp that concluded Thursday. If a player was 30 or older, he was excused. But with Woodson and Robbins, it's been a patient wait since their February surgeries.

    "Neither of them has been able to participate in the (off-season) work we are doing," coach Norv Turner said. "We know it is going to be hard for them to come back, so you have to plan as if they are not coming back. To me, when you get in a situation like (this one), it is a bonus if they can make it back."

    Contingency plans involve free agent and rookie acquisitions. Oakland signed veteran Ray Buchanan, and he is currently the starting free safety. They also drafted Stuart Schweigert, who broke Woodson's interception records at Purdue, in the third round.

    At center, the team drafted Virginia Tech center Jake Grove in the second round. He joins returning veteran Adam Treu, who has relieved Robbins whenever needed -- including that Super Bowl day in January 2003 when Robbins went AWOL before the team's showdown with Tampa Bay.

    Not surprisingly, the 200-pound Woodson is making a relatively more rapid recovery than Robbins, whose weight ranged from 360 to an eventual 340 last year. While Woodson may be able to participate when training camp practices begin July 30, Robbins was originally aiming for an August return at best.

    Like Robbins, Woodson had his doubts about his football future after limping through the 2003 season.

    "If you knew how my knee felt, I didn't know if I'd be walking too much," Woodson said. "At that point, I thought I would need crutches the rest of my life. Now I'm not limping when I get out there. I can walk up steps. I can jog in place, which I couldn't do last year. I can stand on one leg, which I couldn't do either. We'll wait and see how it turns out."

    Robbins' agent, Drew Pittman, concedes the radical nature of the surgery on professional athletes makes for an uncertain prognosis.

    "Our thoughts and hopes are that it is going to be like an ACL reconstruction where it allows him to keep playing football," Pittman said. "We're taking it as it comes. Right now, the initial outcome is very positive. We think he will be able to play again.

    "The Raiders have shown a really strong desire to stick with this guy and give him every chance to play again. I think that is huge. What if he can't play the first half of the year but he comes back part time in the second half and is ready for the next year? They said they would be willing to go through that with him."

    Robbins, the 49th pick in Round 2 of the 1995 draft, says it's a matter of small steps leading up to big ones. He said he didn't blame the Raiders for selecting Grove with the 45th pick in Round 2.

    "I think it was a move they had to make," he said. "I think it is a case where they are really trying to handle their business and make sure they have a solid No. 2 guy there ... someone they can bring along to maybe be the next center here.

    "That's the business of it. On the other hand, if I take care of my business, I think I can get healthy, and we'll have a better football team."

  • #2
    Re: Cadavers' cartilage may save 2 Raiders

    I knew there was a reason to read your posts ... didn't realize they were starting to experiment with this procedure ... it's something close to heart that annoys me every day and if this cartilege replacement process becomes more viable, I think I'm going to have to see if any of the local drs have any experience with the procedure.

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    • Curly Horns
      Rich Gannon says he's confident
      by Curly Horns
      JANIE McCAULEY
      AP Sports Writer
      ALAMEDA, Calif. — Rich Gannon is more than a year removed from his MVP award, turns 39 in December, and swears he is 100 percent healthy and not the least bit concerned about the addition of backup Kerry Collins to the Oakland Raiders' quarterback mix.

      Gannon's still No. 1 in the minds of the Raiders and Collins, too.

      "I'm as hard on myself as anybody," Gannon said Tuesday, when the Raiders began a three-day voluntary minicamp. "I set the bar very high — I think as anyone who's been around me would know. I don't really need anybody to come in to make me work harder to compete, to help me focus or challenge myself.

      "In my opinion, I'm here to work with Kerry and help him and help our team win. That's what my focus is going to be."

      Gannon had one of the most productive offseasons of his 17-year career as he recovered from surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder. He's been throwing almost every day this spring.

      He was knocked out of the Raiders' 17-10 loss to Kansas City last Oct. 20 and had surgery in November.

      "If I threw three days a week in the offseason that was a lot. Now I'm throwing every day," Gannon said. "I'm much further ahead than I would have been had I not had the surgery."

      He has looked crisp and strong in both minicamps so far. He completed a few passes of more than 25 yards Tuesday, though the bulk of his tries were shorter than 15.

      There had been speculation the Raiders might opt not to take on the $7 million salary Gannon is set to make in 2004 — and he has repeatedly said he won't take a pay cut. The franchise hasn't seemed to lose faith in the man who led them to the 2002 Super Bowl.

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    • HUbison
      Robbins released by Raiders
      by HUbison
      Raiders release center Robbins after he fails physical

      By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer
      July 23, 2004
      ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- Former Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins was released by the Oakland Raiders on Friday, a week after he and two other players were fined three game checks for testing positive for the steroid THG.

      Robbins confirmed that he had failed the exam and added: ``I'm OK. I just don't want to talk about this right now.''

      Robbins, who began training camp last year on the physically unable to perform list, missed two meetings and a walkthrough practice before the 2003 Super Bowl and didn't play in the game. Bill Callahan, then the Raiders coach, said Robbins was incoherent and didn't know where he was when he showed up Saturday night before the game.


      Callahan deactivated him and Adam Treu started in his place.

      Last season, Robbins showed a new dedication to the Raiders and his teammates following several months of difficulty following that game. He is a recovering alcoholic and was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He spent 31 days at the Betty Ford Center and was determined to repair his image -- and to return to the Raiders alongside a few teammates who initially didn't want him back.

      Robbins, teammate Chris Cooper and free agent Dana Stubblefield were fined three game checks last week for the THG violation. The case had been pending since last fall and the checks were for 2003 rather than 2004.

      They also were placed on ``reasonable-cause testing'' for the rest of their careers, and will be suspended for eight games if they test positive for any steroid again.

      Robbins, who has played all nine of his pro seasons with Oakland, said he would like to stay in football, but wasn't sure what's next for him.

      Robbins made the Pro Bowl for the first time after the 2002 season, but did not play in the game. A year after missing the final 14 games of 2001 with an injured right knee, he was a pivotal part of an offensive line that helped the Raiders produce the league's top offense.

      ``Barret has been a valuable member of the Raider organization and has been an integral part of the success of the Silver and Black,'' new coach Norv Turner said. ``He has kept the Raiders tradition of great centers alive and we wish him well in his future endeavors.''

      Robbins said he has appreciated all the support from Raiders fans.

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      At this weekend’s rookie minicamp, offensive lineman Michael Hay will be one of 39 bright-eyed youngsters hoping to make a strong first impression on the Rams’ coaching staff. The 38 others might want to be on the football field as much as Hay but none will need it more.

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      Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse last week after starting every game at tackle for the Orange the past two years, Hay comes to the Rams with big dreams and every possible motivation to get his foot in the NFL door.

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    • psycho9985
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      by psycho9985
      Loss to Rams, No. 26 ranking on defense stab Rhodes’ pride

      DAVE BOLING; THE NEWS TRIBUNE
      Published: August 1st, 2005 12:01 AM


      CHENEY – Probably unconsciously, when Ray Rhodes uttered the word “Rams,” he touched his flank in the general area of his spleen. “I have a knife in my side because they gutted me pretty good last year,” the Seahawks defensive coordinator said after Sunday afternoon’s training camp practice.

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      Rhodes sought answers as if on a personal crusade. He had not, after all, lasted three decades in the NFL by tolerating such indignities.

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      -08-01-2005, 06:27 PM
    • RamDez
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      by RamDez
      Injury knocks Wohlabaugh off center stage

      8/20/2004 By JERRY SULLIVAN

      Dave Wohlabaugh knew it was coming when he arrived at the St. Louis Rams' practice site Wednesday morning. In fact, he felt an odd sense of relief. His hip had been slow to recover from offseason surgery. He had failed a physical, and it would be at least three months before he could consider playing again.

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      He became a very solid center, a notch short of the Pro Bowl. He was a quiet guy off the field and a wild man...
      -08-21-2004, 12:17 AM
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