RENTON, Wash. – When Isaiah Stanback ruptured his Achilles tendon in training camp last year, he had only one question for team doctors.
Back when he was a quarterback at the University of Washington, Stanback went down with another serious injury, a Lisfranc sprain that required season-ending foot surgery and was considered career-threatening. So all he needed to hear last August was that this wouldn’t be any worse.
“The first thing I asked the doc when he came in, I said, ‘Is it worse than my foot was, recovery wise?’” said Stanback, who now plays receiver. “He said no, and that’s all I needed to know. My foot, I wasn’t supposed to be able to come back from that.”
So while most athletes, particularly ones who rely on speed and explosiveness like Stanback, would be terrified about an Achilles injury, he simply put his head down and started focusing on 2011 knowing that, if he made it back from the foot injury, he could handle this one too.
“It sucked, but what can you do,” he said. “You can’t prevent injuries like that, you can just control how much effort you put into coming back from it. I just dealt with it, it’s one of those things that happened.”
Studies have shown that Achilles injuries are amongst the hardest to come back from, particularly for athletes who rely on speed, but Stanback plans to defy the odds and come back better than ever in his fifth season.
“You can ask some of the guys I’m going against, but I feel pretty good,” he said. “I worked hard to get it back healthy, and you try your best to not think about it. I can honestly say I haven’t thought about my Achilles once since I’ve been out here.”
Despite not being fully recovered from his foot injury when the 2007 draft rolled around, the Dallas Cowboys used a fourth-round pick on Stanback. He spent two seasons there, playing primarily on special teams, then spent the 2009 season with he Patriots. He signed with Seattle prior to last season, and looked like he was on his way to making the team before suffering the Achilles injury. And while Stanback has looked good as a receiver in camp, making a number of big plays down the field, his best chance to make the team this year is by showing what he can do on special teams.
“He jumps out at us in terms of how physical he is,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s been an obvious contributor in the special teams area and that’s because he’s tough, he’s fast and he really cares about doing all the little things right. He’s very determined, a very strong-willed kid and it just shows up, you just feel him. We were real excited about him last year until the time he got banged up, but he’s come back out and he’s overcome that. He’s at full speed and he’s in there battling.”
The Seahawks obviously saw something they liked in Stanback to bring him back. More often than not, a team would move on from a player in his situation.
“After it happened, I told (general manager John) Schneider, if you give me another chance, I’ll be back out here next year,” Stanback said.
Tarvaris Jackson will get the start at quarterback in Thursday’s preseason game against San Diego, coach Carroll said, but won’t likely play much. No. 3 QB Josh Portis is expected to see the bulk of the reps against the Chargers. … WR Mike Williams isn’t expected to play because of a toe injury suffered Monday. Carroll said the injury isn’t serious, but that Williams will be held out as a precaution. Also unlikely to play are rookie WR Kris Durham (hamstring) and DT Kentwan Balmer (stinger). DE Red Bryant, who is coming back from knee surgery and hasn’t practiced in more than a week, won’t play, but should return to practice this weekend.