Steelers News

New Steelers TE Eric Ebron Says Surgically Repaired Ankle Still Not 100 Percent

A lot has been made about new Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron taking it upon himself to end his 2019 season with the Indianapolis Colts prematurely to have ankle surgery. Him deciding to do that is why the Colts decided not to try to re-sign him this offseason. On Thursday, Ebron conducted a conference call with the Pittsburgh media and during it explained why he shouldn’t be viewed as a player who quite on the Colts last season and why he decided to get his injured ankle surgically repaired with more than a quarter of the 2019 regular season remaining.

“All I know is I’ve had the (ankle) injury since Aug. 4 and I played through an injury till the time I said I couldn’t do it any longer,” Ebron said, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It was simply my choice from my health standpoint. I made that choice. I went and told them I was making that choice a week before I made that choice. It’s not my job to explain the story. I was hurt. Nobody likes to play hurt.”

In late November, Colts head coach Frank Reich was asked about the team’s decision to place Ebron on injured reserve and his answer was quite curious.

“He came in last week; it had flared up on him,” Reich said. “Prior to that, I mean, really, he had had no problems with it as far as practice or play, and then when it flared up on him last week it became a little bit of an issue, so we ended up having to make the move we did today.”

Reich was then asked to comment on how Ebron’s ankle issues evolved and once again his answer was curious.

“Before last week, I was not aware that there was anything significant,” Reich said. “I know there was a time in training camp, before training camp, I think, he had a scan. To the best of my knowledge, the scan was fine — I’m not saying it was 100 percent clean, but it was nothing that was limiting him in practice, it didn’t limit him in training camp, it didn’t limit him in the season or for practice. And then last week sometime, I don’t know if it flared up in practice or if it was a result from a previous game, but that’s really the first time that it was kind of flared up to the point where it affected him as far as practice.”

Finally, Reich was then asked last November if the player or the team made the ultimate decision to place the tight end on Reserve/Injured.

“Well, you know, we talked it through,” Reich told the media. “Obviously we all talked it through together, we all had individual conversations — I had conversations with Eric, Chris [Ballard] had conversations with Eric, doctors — and then at the end of the day this was what was thought to be the best decision.”

Ebron reportedly underwent ankle surgery in early December and not long after he explained to fans of the Colts on Twitter why he chose to go that route and thus end his 2019 season prematurely.

On Thursday, Ebron reportedly said he had his ankle “cleaned up from the inside,” calling it “a mess,” according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network. Ebron also reportedly admitted Thursday during his media conference call that he wouldn’t be a full-go if the season were to start today. He did, however, claim that he will be ready for the start of the 2020 regular season. Ahead of him signing with the Steelers, Ebron had a doctor in Texas perform his physical due to current coronavirus pandemic issues that prevented him from traveling to Pittsburgh to have it done by the team’s physicians.

“If the season started today, I don’t think I’d be able to 100% perform,” Ebron said, according to Dulac. “But we don’t play today.”

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic could ultimately result in NFL teams not having annual OTA sessions and if that’s indded the case, Ebron will have until the start of training camp to get his surgically repaired ankle back to 100 percent. In the meantime, however, Ebron said Thursday he works out every morning at 5 a.m., and then plays golf in the afternoon. He also reiterated that he has a JUGS machine on order that will allow for him to catch footballs until he can begin practicing with his new team.

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