St. Louis Rams receiver Brian Quick was well on his way toward a breakout season in 2014 until being derailed by a significant shoulder injury that included a torn rotator cuff and dislocated left shoulder.
That’s bad for anyone, let alone an NFL receiver who takes major hits to every parts of his body on a regular basis.
In only six games, the 2012 second-round pick was leading the Rams with 25 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns. He was injured Oct. 26 against Kansas City and has spent many of his waking moments since then doing anything and everything to get back to the sport that he loves.
“I’m a fighter and everybody can see it,” said Quick, who not only made it back to the field for the start of training camp but seems to be moving well while hauling in passes. “It’s not up to me to show them, I have to have something inside of me that wants to come out here and fight with my fellow teammates and brothers, for the coaches and this program
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“I’m doing it for them and I feel like I can continue to do what I need to do and work every day, I will be successful.”
The 26-year-old former Appalachian State star underwent a grueling rehab process that many days stretched from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Yes, there was plenty of stretching and range of motion exercises and strength work and everything else that went into trying to build his shoulder back to withstanding the rigors of an NFL game.
“It’s a long progress and there’s so many little things that people would not get or understand with my injury, how my injury was,” Quick said. “I can’t explain it too much, but I can tell you it was a long process. I just knew it was going to be tough.
“Nothing in life is easy.”
As a result, Quick got a special feeling when he returned to the field Friday for the opening day of training camp.
“It’s like being a rookie all over again, you’re starting over,” Quick said. “Coming out here and being with the guys is completely different than doing anything by yourself. All the emotions that went through my head yesterday ... I was excited, not nervous, but I was just excited. The coaches could tell and I came out here and just calmed down a little bit.”
Quick said that noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews had a special term for him.
“He was like ‘I’m a miracle,’’’ Quick said, referring to his ability to come back from such a significant injury and surgical procedure. “I would really say I’m blessed to get the opportunity to be out here and I want to really thank him and the trainers and everybody. It’s a blessing to be out here and get an opportunity.”
Quick, a big target at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, could be a major piece to the Rams’ offense. His fast start last season came after two struggling seasons that saw him combine for 29 catches, 458 yards and four touchdowns while starting only six of 31 games.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Quick’s injury was more significant than many realized.
“It’s remarkable what he’s overcome,” Fisher said. “The damage that he sustained to his shoulder was significant and there was some talk early on that it might have been career-ending, that he may not be able to come back. He just kept fighting through each stage of the rehab one week after the next and he kept getting better.
“We sent him back down to see Dr. Andrews and he was amazed at his progress.”
Quick isn’t pleased about it, but the Rams are limiting his contact by making him wear a yellow cover over his helmet. It’s not quite like a red jersey for quarterbacks, but Quick does not like the extra attention.
“Oh man, the yellow hat,” he said. “They’re giving me (stuff) for it. Being out there going full speed, it’s kind of hard to kind of do things and people are like ‘oh, they can’t hit him.’ But they understand and I understand that I have to believe in the process, so I have to do what they tell me to do, wear the yellow hat and continue to work hard.”
What’s so bad about the extra precaution?
“It’s the color,” Quick joked. “It’s so bright, I need it darker. I told Coach I want a black one because nobody can see it. It just blends right in.”
Fisher is being protective of a player the Rams could lean on heavily if he returns to the form he flashed early last season.
“He’s not there yet,” Fisher said. “You can tell, we’re keeping him off the ground, but he’s running and he’s still little got a little bit of motion and flexibility to work on, some strength. But by all means we expect him to be back.
“It’s a pretty impressive offseason of rehab that he committed to and he got from our medical staff.”
Rams General Manager Les Snead has become an even bigger fan of Quick after witnessing his rehab process.
“If you were to talk to the trainers and the medical staff, and probably even Dr. Andrews, they love Brian Quick,” Snead said. “They said from where he was — which we see a lot of injuries in football and that was a tough one — they call them car-wreck injuries because it’s not your normal injury.
“There’s less case studies on how to get the guy from Point A to Point Z, but man, he was in here every day, a lot of days a week. If you go down there right now and ask the trainers about Brian Quick they’ll all go ‘All right, that’s a man.’ You pull for him because he’s come a long way.”