It has been nearly one year since <b>Ben Archibald</b> suffered a devastating leg injury, which caused him to miss his final season at BYU. Archibald was the undisputed leader of the 2002 BYU offensive line and his absence left a gaping hole that hurt the team more than anyone expected.

Archibald suffered a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula. He said that he was wearing some long tube socks when the injury occurred that actually helped his injury from getting infected. The sock was literally the only thing that kept the bone from being completely exposed.

As a result of the surgery, Archibald now has a metal rod that extends from his knee to his ankle through the tibia, with three screws holding it in place. Those will eventually be removed, but probably not until after he's done playing football.

In an interview with from the San Francisco 49ers camp, Archibald said the injury is healing well. "I have no soreness and the leg felt real good in mini camp."

Shortly after the NFL draft, Archibald signed a free agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers. They moved him from tackle to guard and he said he likes the position change.

Archibald said that he got "a lot of reps" in mini camp, noting his leg "didn't bother him or inhibit him" during camp. He is competing against a handful of other players for a back-up guard spot with the 49ers. All of the players he must beat out are either free agent rookies or guys who played in NFL Europe.

He said his speed and strength is about the same as before the injury, adding it will ultimately come down to who knows their assignments and who learns the offense the best. "The other guys are all good guys and I just need to make up for missing a year physically."

Archibald passed his first physical and was officially cleared for full contact for the 49ers training camp which began late July. While this is a good sign, Archibald would still need to pass an additional physical with the 49ers team doctors in order to make the team.

Archibald is looking forward to watching the Cougar football team this fall and is especially excited to watch former teammate Scott Jackson, whom he describes as "one of my best friends."

Of Jackson, who is expected to fill the same leadership role he had last year, Archibald said, "I think he'll have a great year if he stays healthy," adding that Jackson has "a great shot at playing at the next level. He's a smart player, a great leader and a key on the offensive line."

Archibald said he is interested to see how the team comes together in 2003, especially with the new philosophies and ideas on defense. He added that Chad Barney is another player he is excited watch this fall.

Author's Note: I had a chance to see and talk to Ben Archibald while we were both working out in Provo this summer. When I saw him, he had just finished a workout with Coach Jay Omer and had then been on the field getting in some extra work. The fact that he was still on the field doing more drills on his own after finishing a grueling workout with Omer speaks volumes about his work ethic. I noticed he still had a slight limp as he was walking off the field. However, even with the limp, he still has good speed and great feet.

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