The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has plantar fasciitis in one, or both, of his feet. Peppers declined to comment on the injury so it’s unclear which foot is injured, or whether both feet have the ailment.
Plantar fasciitis, according to WebMD, is “the most common cause of pain in the heel. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot.
“If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk. Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament. These can lead to pain and swelling.”
DE Julius Peppers
Bradley Leeb/US Presswire
Structurally, the injury won’t affect his movement. It’s just a matter of pain tolerance. There is no cure for the injury, other than rest, which explains the large number of days Peppers sat out during training camp.
Yet Peppers said he plans on playing through the pain and will not miss any regular season games. For anyone that watched the 34-year-old perform against the Washington Redskins last week, there should be no worry about his ability to play with the injury. In Week 5 last season, he sprained the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee but never missed a game.
Peppers’ nickname is The Freak of Nature, due to his amazing combination of size (6-7, 287), speed and athleticism. While plantar fasciitis might keep you and I on the couch for weeks, it shouldn’t be anything more than an annoyance to Peppers.
The Bears will monitor the situation closely and he likely won't practice much this year. The coaches could also reduce his reps during the game to reduce aggravation on the heel.
This means it's likely the club will keep five defensive ends this year. Rookie Shea McClellin will get extra reps on passing downs, while Corey Wootton could see extra field time as well. Chauncey Davis could fill that fifth roster spot, although he's limited as a pass rusher and only has value on 1st and 2nd downs.
The wildcard here is Cheta Ozougwu (6-2, 255), an undrafted rookie out of Rice, who has the second most sacks on the team this preseason. He has showed very good burst off the edge and would have much more value than Davis on third downs. At the very least, his performance this preseason makes him a strong candidate for the practice squad.
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.