Early February was going to be decision time as to whether Aaron Schobel's Lisfranc foot injury was going to require surgery. After going through a 15-minute workout with head trainer Bud Carpenter Tuesday and x-ray and MRI exams with team physicians, Schobel's foot appears much improved and surgery will not be necessary.
"I took an x-ray to make sure that the gap between the bones didn't get any wider and it didn't get any wider in the past two months," Schobel told Buffalobills.com. "The MRI showed that most of the bone bruising was gone and by the ligament there was scar tissue forming around it, which is what we wanted because it will help stabilize everything. So I won't have to do anything."
The key during Schobel's on-field workout Tuesday was being able to drive off the injured foot coming off the edge, something he could not do without severe discomfort even at season's end, 11 weeks removed from the time he suffered the injury. But Schobel was encouraged by how it held up this week.
"I worked out on it and did pretty good," Schobel said. "I did some running and checked it. (Bud) was basically watching my stride because the last time I worked on it my stride was shorter and I wasn't putting as much pressure on it. But my stride was pretty much back to normal."
As a result Schobel will have a typical offseason where he goes through his normal offseason conditioning to stay in proper shape.
"I've just got to get ready to play," said Schobel. "In my mind it's about 90 percent. I can still feel it. It's not like the other foot where I never feel it and just run normal. But I could play with it right now if I had to. As long as it's stable even if there's just a little bit of pain then I've got to deal with that."
Had Schobel needed surgery on his right foot he would have been looking at six months of rehab, which would have taken him right into August and the start of training camp. The Bills top pass rusher is glad he's avoided that.
"It's a big relief," he said. "Who the hell wants to sit around in the offseason in a cast and a boot for 12 weeks? I can do stuff around the house and other things I like to do. I would have been a nuisance to my wife and kids if I had to sit around because I'm already pretty lazy around the house. Imagine if I had an excuse."
Schobel, who will return to Buffalo at the end of the month to be cleared for football-related activities, had been working out on the foot the past few weeks leading up to Tuesday's workout. He believes steady activity actually helped the healing process.
"At home I was doing some stuff and every time I did stuff it seemed like it got better," Schobel said. "So I'm thinking the more I do, the more it loosens up to the point where I don't even feel it."
That's why almost six months from now when training camp opens he's not even expecting it to weigh on his mind while practicing and playing in the preseason.
"It improved a lot in the last month," he said. "So I'm figuring with five or six more months it won't even be an issue. I'm just guessing, but I don't see it being a factor."
All Schobel is hoping at this point is that he is more of a factor in Buffalo's pass rush in 2009.
"I don't want to just be an average player," he said. "I want to feel like I'm one of the best, if not the best, and that's how I'm going to prepare and that's the mindset I'm going to take into (the offseason). Hopefully it works out that I prove people that think I'm over the hill wrong."