Someday, Gabe Watson expects, he will play healthy. He’s hoping that time is now.
The nose tackle’s freak accident two offseasons ago – in which he fell off a treadmill and broke his kneecap – created some career issues. He spent 2008 playing with pins and wires in his knee. Then last year he had surgery to take out those pins and wires, and had to build his knee up again. He said last year, he “was really playing on one leg.” He also started playing last season at 332 pounds – more than he wanted – and ended at 340 pounds. That end also came with an 80 percent MCL tear in his knee in the Saints’ playoff game. Surgery wasn’t needed, but rehab was, and a certain frustration came along with it.
“It’s football,” Watson said. “You’re going to get injured. You have to keep playing.”
Watson said he’s down about 30 pounds from the end of the season. He needs to build back up some muscle mass, but ideally, he’ll play at 315 or 320 pounds. That’ll help his quickness and agility, important at a position where he’s the starter for now, especially with veteran Bryan Robinson still un-signed and a question mark to return. But Watson is also doing it with an eye on his star-struck knees and also his post-football life.
“You have to take care of yourself and I am learning slowly but surely how to do it,” Watson said. “They say for every pound of weight you have, it’s three pounds of stress on your knees – so I’ve got a lot of stress on my knees. Hopefully it will help with all the injuries and the longer I will be able to go.”
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