The 2014 season was expected to be a dream year for Matt Cassel. Despite selecting Teddy Bridgewater in the first round of May’s draft, the Vikings had re-signed Cassel and anointed him the starting quarterback, something that the coaching staff never wavered on from May until September.
That ended on Sunday. The Vikings made it official Tuesday when they placed Cassel on season-ending injured reserve after he broke multiple bones in his left foot on a play in which a Saints defender landed directly on the foot as Cassel had planted it.
On Wednesday, Cassel was on crutches in the Vikings locker room as he prepares to see a specialist Thursday to discuss the extent of the damage, whether surgery will be necessary and how long the rehab process will take.
Suffice it to say, Cassel was dejected about the injury and its timing because he had big plans for 2014 that went up in smoke in an instant.
“It’s disappointing both professionally and personally,” Cassel said. “You work so hard in the offseason to give yourself the opportunity to play and to have it happen this early in the season, especially with the belief I have in this team and the thoughts of having a lot of success this year, for it to happen this early is obviously super devastating to me.”
At the time, Cassel wasn’t sure how bad the injury was. He knew it was serious because he lost feeling in his left foot, but did he know the extent of the injury immediately?
“No I didn’t,” Cassel said. “You go out there, you’re playing and you’ve got the adrenaline going and all that stuff. I knew my foot went numb when it happened. When I came off to the sideline, I had dislocated my pinky toe. They popped that thing back and I thought, if that’s the extent of it, that was a good thing. Unfortunately, they found some fractures in the foot and obviously we’ll have to deal with that.”
As things currently stand, there is no timeline for Cassel’s rehab schedule. He will be flying to Charlotte Thursday to meet with renowned foot surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson. That name may be familiar to Vikings fans because he was the specialist who treated Antoine Winfield when he suffered a foot injury in 2010.
While Cassel was short on specifics – he’s unclear as to whether Dr. Anderson has even viewed the MRI yet –there was some good news. The broken bones are in the front of his foot near the toes so it doesn’t involve the Lisfranc or include ligament damage. Had either of those been involved, the prognosis would likely have been much worse.
While there are some positives to it, Cassel said the most difficult portion will be the mental part of the rehab process. He is aware the road to recovery will be long, but, as much as the physical recovery will take time, so will the mental aspect of the rehab process.
“It’s devastating,” Cassel said. “All the hard work that goes into an offseason to put yourself in this position – to get to where we’re at and there was a strong belief that we were going to have a lot of success this year. To not be able to go out and perform and compete every week, that’s why we do this. It’s a tough deal.”
A lot of veterans in his situation could simply check out mentally and start the process of repairing his injured foot on his own or with the training staff. But he plans to remain an integral part of the 2014 Vikings. The only difference is the responsibility he will have as a de facto coach instead of being the starting QB.
“My role changes at this point,” Cassel said. “I’ll be here for these guys. I’ll support them. I’ll support Teddy. I think Teddy will do a tremendous job and hopefully I can help him in a mentoring position and help guide him and bring him along.”
Injury ‘super devastating’ to Vikings’ Cassel
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