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Derwin James to miss 5-7 weeks with meniscus surgery

The defensive back suffered the injury in a victory over Charleston Southern.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Florida State Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Update 9/13/16

Jimbo Fisher said that Derwin James will miss at least 5-7 weeks as the meniscus required a repair as opposed to a debridement. If the timetable is accurate, James will miss games against Louisville, USF, North Carolina, Miami and Wake Forest and potentially Clemson, too. While the recovery might be longer with this method, James' long-term prognosis is thought to be better, which is very important for such an elite NFL prospect.

According to one orthopedic surgeon familiar with meniscus repairs, five weeks would be an aggressive timeline, but James is an elite athlete and may be able to meet the timetable.

"I'd be shocked if it was five weeks, but I've been shocked before. Even most aggressive rehab protocols after a repair normally have the patient only bear weight with their knee fully extended for four weeks. (They can do non-weight bearing knee range of motion much sooner.) Being back on the football field one week after that that seems quick. Seven sounds more reasonable."

Other surgeons we spoke with believed 6-8 weeks is the standard timetable to be back on the field, but it can vary depending on individual factors.


In the third quarter of Florida State’s 52-8 blowout victory over Charleston Southern, defensive back Derwin James suffered torn cartilage (meniscus) while making a tackle. Jimbo Fisher says there is no structural damage.

Before exiting the game, the defensive back had picked up three tackles and had his first career interception against Ole Miss this past Monday. He is widely considered one of the best safeties in college football and will miss the Louisville game, a contest in which Florida State is barely favored according to early Vegas lines.

Though timetables can vary, typically a torn meniscus takes around 4-6 weeks to heal, meaning FSU's starting safety should return before the 2016 season concludes. But depending on how the repair goes once James has the surgery Monday, it could be anywhere from 2-10 weeks. A meniscectomy can have a player back quickly, while a full repair takes longer. Jimbo Fisher says that a timetable is undetermined, and that FSU will see after surgery.

The ‘Noles play Clemson on October 29th, six weeks from now. If James does come back earlier, it could be when FSU faces Miami on October 8th, a little less than four weeks away. FSU hosts the Gators in 10 weeks.

While the game was a blowout at the point of injury, it’s worth noting that James was injured on snap No. 31, a very low number of snaps to have played midway through the third quarter.

Florida State football head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game, "You can't get any better sitting on the bench. You have to play," which goes along the rationalization of James still playing. At the time of injury, a majority of FSU’s starting defense was still in the game.

James played in all 13 games during FSU’s 2015 season, starting seven of them, and finishing second on the team with 91 tackles despite not starting until the team’s sixth game of the season. He also led the team with two fumble recoveries and forced two more fumbles, tied for second. In his first two games of 2016, James had a team high 10 tackles with an interception and pass defended.

Behind the Haines City, Florida native on the depth chart is sophomore A.J. Westbrook who saw action in the final five games of 2015 and the first two games of 2016. The former three-star recruit has recorded two tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss in his Florida State career which consists of seven total games played. He has received praise from the coaching staff for his knowledge of the defense, but there’s no replacing a player of James’ caliber.