Eric Johnson: 'It's killing me right now'

Fifth-year veteran Eric Johnson severely aggravated a torn plantar fascia in his right foot earlier this week and will miss the entire 2005 season with the injury. Here, he discusses the details and circumstances surrounding the injury, including his prognosis for recovery and when he'll be able to return to the field.

Q: What happened with your injury?

Basically, I was ready to play this week against Dallas. It looked like it was healing up pretty good. I felt much better. And I went out Monday to test it, just to run on it a little bit, see how it felt. I ran some controlled sprints and did a couple of patterns. I was running a corner route, made the cut and just felt a pop, and I tore it a lot more seriously to the point where I probably wouldn't be able to make it back this whole year. So they just decided to IR me today.

Q: Are you going to need surgery to correct the problem?

There's something they could do with reattaching the fascia to the bone, but it's not something they've done much, not with too many athletes. Doctors think I can heal it on my own. Actually, what I did to my foot, where I tore it even more, is a surgery they will do if a small tear is not healing. They'll go in there and tear it even more so the body knows to form that scar tissue and heal it even more. So, basically, I did the surgery myself (on Monday). And I didn't have to get put under the knife or take any anesthesia.

Q: Do you have any regrets of maybe trying to come back to soon from the injury?

At first, I did have regrets. I really wanted to be out there to help the team as soon as I could. I wanted to go out for the (season) opener, and they held me out those two weeks, so we were conservative about it. It was most likely one of those things that if I had gone out anytime in the next couple of weeks it probably would have torn. Whether the tear was too small and the body didn't know to scar it up … It wasn't healing the way it should and it could have happened anyway.

Q: Could this have been averted if you'd had surgery when you first got hurt during training camp in August?

If they had done it right when it happened, we'd still be flirting with (missing) the entire year. But with the severity of my tear (in August), we thought I would be ready to go in a month. The (first) tear wasn't that severe.

Q: How bad is the tear now? Is it completely torn?

It's a significant tear. It doesn't go all the way through the fascia to where it rolls up, which is good.

Q: Have you talked much to (quarterback) Tim Rattay – who had a similar injury last year – about the injury and what kind of rehab you'll need?

I talked to him and he was telling me to take care of it so I don't risk the whole year by coming back too early. I don't think I did. It was something that would have torn even if I'd given it a couple more weeks. The rehab is going to take about 12 or so weeks – 10 to 12 weeks. That's the time frame they're giving me. I should be full go at (spring) minicamps.

Q: After also missing the entire 2003 season with an injury, how frustrating is this for you?

It is really frustrating. I can't believe it. This came on really quick. I went out Monday to run and I had a new energy about me. I was so fired up to play, and to have this happen so suddenly – and just to know this quickly that you're out for the year – is really disappointing. I'm just trying not to beat myself up about it. The collarbone thing (in 2003) is kind of a fluke injury that I don't know if I could have stopped it, and now I just have to figure out ways to prevent this and take care of my foot. I just have to kind of roll with the punches and come back better than ever next year.

Q: Is there any question whether you'll be able to come back next year?

There's no doubt in my mind. It's unfortunate, and it's killing me right now. It's frustrating, but I have no doubt that I'll be back next year ready to go.

Q: Will the experience of missing the 2003 season help you deal with the setback of missing another entire season?

I think I went through a lot of stuff in 2003 mentally, kind of coming to grips with not playing and learning to be professional and to not put too much of it on myself or beat myself up about it. It was just something that was really out of my control. That's helped to where I think I've matured mentally, and I just try not to think of what happened, and just move on and have hope for next year.

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