Danny Trevathan's road to recovery

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- While the Denver Broncos hoped for the best, the revelation that linebacker Danny Trevathan has a fracture just below his left knee rather than ligament damage still has to be considered good news and leaves open the possibility Trevathan could return before the Broncos are a quarter of the way through their regular-season schedule.

Or, as head coach John Fox put it following Tuesday night’s practice: “We were hoping it was a bruise, that would have been the best news. Obviously that’s better than ligament damage, those are the out-for-the-season types of things."

Trevathan suffered medial tibial impaction fracture during Tuesday’s morning practice and Fox said Trevathan had “a crack ... high on the tibia."

The Broncos have put Trevathan’s timetable for recovery at “four to eight weeks," while Trevathan has said he’s hoping for a slightly quicker return at four to six weeks. Either way the key, according to Stephania Bell, ESPN’s injury analyst and a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist, will be the care Trevathan and the Broncos take early on with the injury.

Trevathan must keep weight off of his left leg initially in his recovery to prevent the fracture from becoming any larger or creating any other issues in the knee. Depending on how the fracture heals the Broncos can, according to Bell, have Trevathan put weight on the leg on a graduated basis.

Once Trevathan has progressed to the point where he can move the knee, the Broncos can use several methods for him to maintain his conditioning until he returns to the field. He can do work in a pool to keep weight off of his leg or the Broncos can use an AlterG, a type of treadmill that would allow the Broncos to control the amount of weight Trevathan can put on the leg while also simulating the action of running.

But all of those things would not begin until the fracture has healed enough to allow it. The Broncos say Trevathan will not need surgery to repair any cartilage or ligament damage around the fracture and believe the linebacker could return to the lineup following a Week 4 bye.

That timetable would mean Trevathan would miss three regular-season games. The Broncos, who have an early-season bye in Week 4, face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5 and the New York Jets in Week 6.

The third-year linebacker, who was the team’s leading tackler last season with 124, and is one of the most versatile players in defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s scheme. Trevathan, who plays on the weak side in the base defense, is a three-down player at the position with enough strength to fill gaps in the run defense and enough speed and athleticism to work downfield in pass coverage.