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NFL Scouting Combine: Medical Evaluations

Posted Feb 19, 2014

Medical Evaluations at the NFL Scouting Combine could provide the most important pieces of information from Indianapolis.

The NFL Scouting Combine isn’t just about the illustrious 40-times and bench press drills. For players, it can be a long, weary process of interviews and medical evaluations. The medical examinations are so long and intense, that many players actually feel drained after completing them.

“It’s really a rough day for the players going through because they have, on the orthopedic side of things, they’ll get seen by 32 different physicians that day," Texans team orthopedist Dr. Walter Lowe said in an interview with Texans All Access. "Let’s say they had an ACL torn in college, you can be guaranteed that there will be 32 people yank on that knee that day to see how stable it is and see how it looks and so it can be a very frustrating and trying day for the players."

Dr. Lowe estimates the Texans will likely perform approximately 500 MRI studies, with some starting as early as 4 am for players. Each team performs its own medical evaluations by a group of physicians from different areas of expertise.

“It’s a labor-intensive event," Lowe said. "The Texans actually bring about 10 physicians. It’s a very thorough evaluation. This year we have about 350 guys to look at and we’ll know everything there is to know about them, medically, in all 350 of those guys. We take spine people, foot and ankle people, and radiologists, and a bunch of sports medicine guys and hand surgeons.”

Of the 10 physicians, six represent different specialties and four are fellows in-training brought along to assist in the examinations. With many athletes like quarterbacks opting not to perform at the Combine and waiting until their respective Pro Days, Dr. Lowe feels that the medical examinations and interview are the most important pieces to come out of the NFL Combine.

“For me, I came in pretty healthy so it wasn’t too bad,” Earl Mitchell said of his experience at the 2010 NFL Combine. “You’ll see a lot players that have issues and it was definitely just a probing assessment. They are yanking on you and are trying to make sure that they are not wasting an investment. The doctors come in and they want to be able to go back to the general managers and coaches and tell them the player’s ready to go.”

The 2014 NFL Combine begins this week and runs from February 19-25. Check out HoustonTexans.com for all the latest coverage from Indianapolis.

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