The news of Barron Batch tearing his ACL carried an all too familiar ring.
Reading about Barron Batch's ACL tear brought me back to other rookies or young players who'd suffered similar fates. You know the drill, promising rookie, underdog, turning heads almost as soon as he hits the ground in Latrobe and - BAM - injury.
Henry Bailey's story stands out. The Steelers chose Bailey with their 7th round draft pick in the 1995 draft. I am not sure if he got cut or made the practice squad that year, but he was in the Bills training camp the following summer and played several games for the Jets in 1996.
The summer of 1997 brought Bailey back to St. Vincent's. After an outstanding camp, Bailey went on to shine in preseason. Bailey looked poised to provide the Steelers with a devastating threat in the return game, only to injure his knee in the late in the fourth quarter of the 5th and final preseason game against Carolina. Bailey returned in 1998, but broke his ankle against Tampa in the Hall of Fame game and his NFL dream ended there.
Barron Miles had a similar story. Like Bailey, he was a member of the Steelers 1995 draft class, but injured his knee in the 1995 preseason. Miles had looked so sharp in Latrobe that that Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola positively tripped over himself in reminding his readers of how much of an upside Miles was to have had.
Miles made it back to camp in 1996 and 1997 only to get cut at the end of both summers. Would Miles have realized the potential that Labriola on other members of the Steelers organization if not for that rookie injury? Sadly, we'll never know.
Michael Adams followed a similar script. If memory serves, he had a monster preseason in 1997. He started the season doing a respectable job returning kicks but didn't get to play receiver until a mid-season Sunday night game vs. the Colts when injuries forced Miles into the game.
Adams only made one catch, but it went for 39 yards. Alas, two days later it was revealed that he'd played almost an entire half with a torn ACL. Unfortunately for Adams his NFL career would come down to that one catch as he got cut in training camp the next year.
Of course, as Mike Tomlin would (and probably will) say, "Barron Batch is still writing his story." One look at Batch's writing and you'll see that he is one driven individual. Furthermore, ACL injuries are seldom career ending injuries these days.
And of course there is precedent on his side.
Another late round pick tore up his ACL on the second day of training camp in 1988. This unfortunate player even injured his knee again in his second summer at St. Vincents and had to start his sophomore season on IR (you could go on IR and join the roster after 4 weeks back then.)
Activated in mid-1988, this ferocious young firebrand linebacker from Ft. Valley State forced his way into the starting line up during the later half of the season. His his performance in 1989, his first full year as a starter, would make LaMarr Woodley's first year as a starter look pedestrian by comparison.
I am of course talking about Greg Lloyd.
Steelers Nation's thoughts and prayers go out to Barron Batch for a full recovery. Both for good and for ill, the story of a young rookie brimming with potential getting struck down by injury is a part of training camp, a part of football.
The Steelers have had their share, with Rocky Bleier bookending one end of the spectrum and Gabe Rivera the other.
But what about some of the other, lesser known stories like the ones discussed above? What are some of your favorite under-told rebound stories? And who are some of the other rookies that you remember who "could have been contenders" had they not gotten caught on the wrong side of injury?