BERKELEY -- Just after signing day, California inside receiver signee Ray Hudson underwent the first of two surgeries to repair two separate injuries in his leg. His first look at the Bears during spring practice came as he was perched on a pair of crutches, following a Feb. 19 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.
While just being on the field at Memorial Stadium brought a smile to his face, his glacial pace of movement was, to say the least, a frustration. This is a young man used to moving fast, catching passes over the middle, spinning off tacklers and gaining chunks of yardage. Hobbling around did not suit him.
On March 5, Hudson underwent another surgery to repair a hip impingement, slowing him down even further, and preventing him from making appearances at practice for much of spring.
On Friday, though, Hudson was walking freely, with even a bounce in his step. He proudly crowed that he'd gotten his hip stitches out four days early, and that wasn't all.
He was walking without any aid two weeks ahead of schedule. But, that achievement wasn't without plenty of work.
"I had a hip impingement and then I had a torn meniscus in my knee. The surgery, I actually had to fly up to Colorado to the specialist up there in Vail," Hudson said. "They went in through my hip. They put traction in my foot so they wouldn't have to pop the hip out, which is what they used to do. Once they did that surgery, I was on a CPM machine."
The continuous passive motion machine does just what it says. When active movement is difficult or painful, it allows for a repaired joint to move and receive blood flow in the early phases of recovery from joint surgery. What Hudson didn't count on, though, was that the apparatus – while moving his hip – also moved his knee, which helped to accelerate the healing around the avascular meniscus.
"The CPM machine constantly moved my leg for five hours a day for the hip, and I was on all sorts of different things," Hudson said. "I went to physical therapy once a day, and after all that, once I met with the doctor on my knee, he said that everything I did for my hip sped up the knee by two weeks."
While far from completely healed, Hudson was certainly healthy enough for some light roughhousing with his fellow signees, in town for Saturday's spring game, and, he said, he'll be up and running very soon.
"I've been working upper body since last Friday, and I can work out core, now. I was doing leg press earlier [Friday] in physical therapy," he said. "I don't know what they had on, but I'm working it up. I think I'll be full-speed I'm sure by mid-April."
Because of the time between the last time he visited practice and this weekend's festivities, Hudson was able to note quite a difference in the way the offense ran. While coaches and outside observers saw the team on a daily basis, he had the unique perspective of seeing just the starting raw material and a not-quite-finished product, and noticed a big difference.
"Oh, yeah, big time," Hudson said. "We were watching film from Wednesday's practice in meetings [Friday], and it's a huge difference. Everybody's kind of clicking."
And, come August, he'll be getting his click on, as well.
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