Skip to main content

Grady Jarrett provides injury rehab update, says experience will make him a better player

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett reflected on the last seven months since his surgery for the torn ACL sustained in Week 8 of the 2023 season. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The day after Grady Jarrett's surgery to repair a torn ACL, the Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle began rehab. The process started with a barometer test. Perched on the edge of an examination table, he attempted to raise his right injured leg.

The outcome of what would normally be considered a simple task burned a memory into Jarrett's mind that remains strong seven months after the fact.

"It felt like my leg was about to fall off just sitting there," Jarrett said Tuesday after Falcons mandatory minicamp. "I couldn't believe that, with all my might, I couldn't pick my leg up. The week before, I was starting a game to play the Titans. Just like that.

"That perspective and drastic change will make me a better player going forward from now on until the many years I've got left to play."

Jarrett tore his ACL on the second play of the Falcons' Week 8 loss to the Tennessee Titans. That was on Oct. 29.

Two days later, former Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith announced Jarrett was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Jarrett underwent surgery within a week.

He has been rehabbing ever since and is on schedule to return in July for training camp.

"It's like you just got to take it and be patient," Jarrett said. "You're almost back crawling until you can walk, until you can jog, until you can sprint. To be a professional athlete at the top of my game – doing what I do and then going back to learning how to essentially walk functionally – my first time having to go through that was a challenge and an eye-opener, because you can take the little things for granted – like going to the restroom without help, getting in and out of a car. Being put in that position really gave me another fire to get back to being functional."

Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett #97 on the sideline during the third quarter of the Week 7 Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, October 22, 2023. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

In his first eight years with the Falcons, Jarrett appeared in 135 out of possible 138 games, starting 120. He only ever missed one game as a rookie and two in 2018.

His ninth season – 2023 – ended prematurely at eight games because of the injury.

So, this experience has truly been a first for the 31-year-old.

"I'm proud of myself," Jarrett said. "Because through this whole thing, I didn't allow myself to sulk on what happened to me or to fall into a depress or whatever it may be. I knew I had work to do."

While the Falcons cycled through their entire offseason program – from all the minicamps to organized team activities – Jarrett was noticeably absent from practices. That doesn't mean he wasn't working behind the scenes with trainers.

The expected recovery timeline for his ACL injury was nine months. Jarrett really didn't have any time to waste, considering that is the exact length of time from November to July.

"I made the days count; I didn't count the days," Jarrett said. "I tell you that just because it's been a grind, but I'm not exhausted. I'm looking forward to the next challenge. I'm answering the call every day."

Jarrett physically feels good. His goal is to be full-go for training camp, but he also understands his ramp-up efforts may look different than his teammates.

When Jarrett reflected on this whole injury rehab journey on Tuesday, he was vulnerable. He admitted to gaining new appreciation for those in his life – from his wife taking care of their son to the people handling the Grady Gives Foundation. He also gained new insight on the game of football – being able to analytically examine as a player and leisurely watch as a fan. The period away led to personal and professional growth, and it sounded like Jarrett was almost grateful for the career speed bump as he heads into Year 10.

"I might have just needed that in that moment," Jarrett said. "After playing the game for so long at a time, you can sometimes feel like you've got things figured out. It's a reminder that nobody is invincible. Every day that you get to step on the field is a gift. At any moment, it can go."

Related Content