Yesterday, Kaleb McGary returned to the field for the first time since having a procedure to fix an irregular heartbeat back in late July. It’s a promising sign, but it doesn’t mean he will be game-ready anytime soon. Dan Quinn had this to say via the team’s official site:
“The first part is, like today, participating in the walkthrough,” Quinn said. “And then he’ll get a good bit of the field work with Marty [Lauzon] and the athletic performance staff. And then once that’s good, we’ll be out a couple of weeks, make sure the conditioning is right. And then back into individual [drills], and then you get back into team [drills]. So we really stay strict to the policy we put into place for the guys to return to it. We just don’t back off of it, especially if you’ve been out for, in his case, two weeks.”
“It’s a good sign that he had such a good report. But, like all players, we’re going to do the right thing and make sure nothing comes up.”
So the plan is for McGary to be out a least a “couple of weeks” before they will press him into individual and team drills, which would then be followed by game action. That puts him on pace, if everything goes smoothly, to potentially be ready for the first game of the season on September 8th. Although with the way Quinn spoke on it, I would expect them to take things very cautiously, and that McGary could miss the first week or two.
Even when he is cleared to play, there is no guarantee he immediately jumps in as the starter. Ty Sambrailo has been listed as the first-string right tackle on every depth chart leading up to the season. He hasn’t looked the part thus far in the preseason, but his experience gives him a clear edge over a rookie who has yet to suit up for an actual game.
There is also the very real concern that this is an ongoing condition. McGary has already had this procedure three times, and while it is not life-threatening, doctors will not know if the surgery is a success until he begins to push it. Fingers crossed that it worked, but this could be something that pops up again and keeps McGary out for over half the season.