C.J. Anderson will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee., sources told 9NEWS.
The procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Arthur Ting in Fremont, Calif., could eventually lead to the Denver Broncos’ running back missing the rest of the season, although there is hope he could return for the postseason should the team qualify for an AFC playoff spot. The full extent of the tear won’t be known until Dr. Ting works inside the knee.
The Broncos are expected to place Anderson on injured reserve as Anderson’s recovery is expected to be eight to 12 weeks. Any player, but not more than one player, can be activated by a team after eight weeks.
Dr. Ting is a renowned sports surgeon whose clientele includes the likes of Barry Bonds and Alfred Williams.
Anderson suffered his injury on the final play of the first quarter in the Broncos’ 27-9 victory against Houston on Monday night. Anderson cut right during an 11-yard gain and after he was tackled, he stayed down on the ground, clutching his knee. There was not contact in the knee area when the knee buckled.
Anderson then demonstrated some remarkable powers of overcoming injury by re-entering the game and gaining 84 more yards on 14 more carries – including a 7-yard touchdown run – in the final three quarter.
He finished with 107 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday that Anderson was selected as the team’s offensive MVP of the game.
The running back iced his knee after the game but when there was greater discomfort on Tuesday morning, he went to the Broncos’ facility for treatment and consultation with trainer Steve “Greek” Antonopulos and team doctors.
They had Anderson undergo an MRI exam which revealed to the Broncos’ medical team the type of meniscus tear that required surgery to repair. Anderson sought a second opinion in hopes the knee could recover with rest and rehab and he could return to play in a month or so.
He underwent a second MRI in the Bay Area on Wednesday when doctors there confirmed the Broncos’ initial diagnosis.
Before his surgery that was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, doctors had Anderson come in for one more test as it was unusual he was experiencing no pain or soreness in the knee area and is not walking with a trace of a limp.
Anderson leads the team with 437 rushing yards through its 5-2 start. In his absence, the Broncos will start rookie tailback Devontae Booker, who rushed for 83 yards on 17 carries Monday against Houston. No. 3 running back Kapri Bibbs, who has primarily been playing on special teams, will be promoted to No. 2 back this week.
After having one big season for Colorado State in 2013, Bibbs spent his first two professional seasons on the Broncos’ practice squad. He made their 53-man roster this season and has four carries for 21 yards and one reception for 6 yards.
Booker, who rushed for nearly 2,800 in two seasons at Utah but slid to the fourth round of this year’s draft because of his own meniscus concerns, has 244 yards on 51 carries for the Broncos, a 4.8-yard average. He also has 9 catches for 69 yards.
“Right now my coach (Eric Studesville) talked about pretty much every day in our meeting room about opportunity and be ready for it,’’ Booker said Wednesday before learning the extent of Anderson’s injury. “He just coaches us to be ready for every opportunity and when were in film study he makes sure we’re ready each and every situation when we’re out there on the field.
“Definitely exciting but haven’t heard a word on where C.J. is. Just continue to prepare and be ready for the opportunity.’’
It also wouldn’t be a surprise if the team’s general manager John Elway explores trying to acquire a running back before the trading deadline expires at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The team could also promote Juwan Thompson from the practice squad, or acquire a running back for depth.
Losing Anderson, though, is a blow not merely to the Broncos’ running game but their overall offense. Besides his low-center-of-gravity running style, Anderson probably has the best understanding of the Broncos’ offense this side of quarterback Trevor Siemian. Anderson is savvy at determining where the heat is coming from and he’s sturdy and willing enough to use his 5-foot-8, 220-pound frame in blocking off pass rushers.
After a strong finish last season that included 90 yards rushing and a touchdown in the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 victory, Anderson parlayed the leverage of restricted free agency into a competing offer from the Miami Dolphins that was for $18 million over four years with $6 million guaranteed this season and another $3 million fully guaranteed for 2017.
The Broncos matched that offer. The team must now hope Booker and Bibbs can match Anderson’s production.