Neck Surgery Has Clayton Geathers' Return Up In The Air For 2017

Intro: On offense, the injury watch this offseason is for Andrew Luck. On defense, the injury watch is for Clayton Geathers after the third-year safety had surgery for his neck back in March.

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INDIANAPOLIS – It was the hit that clinched a critical divisional victory last November.

It's now a hit that has one of the most important defenders for the Colts sidelined for who knows how long.

March neck surgery on a bulging disc in his neck has Clayton Geathers sidelined this offseason.

Knowing the severity of a neck injury, the Colts and Geathers are not making any definite statements on when the hard-hitting safety will get back to football.

When Geathers made the fourth-down stop on DeMarco Murray, on Nov. 20 last year, the Colts had just won back-to-back games for the first time all season.

In victory though they lost Geathers (and Andrew Luck for a game), who was diagnosed with a concussion the following day.

Symptoms did not improve in the coming days for Geathers, so the Colts put him on injured reserve the next week.

That's when the consultation process began.

"Those symptoms led to a lot of visits with a bunch of different doctors trying to figure out what was going on," Chuck Pagano said of how surgery became the final option for Geathers. "Obviously, the end result, they end up doing some surgery. He had a bulging disc. Surgery is always the last option so there's a big window between the time they finally diagnose that and the surgery. They give those things time to shrink and reduce and sometimes they'll shrink down and reduce by themselves. We wanted to give it as much time as we could. Obviously, that didn't happen."

Geathers says that he realized surgery was the only option once the disc was not "shrinking, moving or flexing."

For any NFL player, a neck injury is nothing to overlook.

Factor in how physical of a player Geathers is at safety, and that just ups the attention level.

"The neck is something serious," Geathers says. "You don't want to play around with the neck.

"But I believe in a higher power, and I just pray about it. Like I said, everything will work out."

Rehab for Geathers currently has him doing more movement and he says the doctors are giving him positive remarks on his progress.

If Geathers does indeed miss the start of Training Camp, it will be the second straight year he's not been healthy enough to start camp.

A foot injury last year sidelined him for all of the preseason and for the first regular season game of 2016.

"It's frustrating, but like I've said, the man above got me," Geathers says. "It's adversity. We all go through it at some point in our life, our career. It's so that mine was back to back. I trust in the process and it's going to be all right."

At Tuesday's open OTA session, T.J. Green was working at strong safety, a move the Colts made earlier this offseason.

The wait is on to see when Geathers will be back into his normal strong safety position.

"I can't tell you when Clayton is going to be available for us but he's doing everything as far as the rehab and the meetings, he's just not practicing right now," Pagano says.

"When the doctors say he's 100 percent and he's ready to roll, then we'll put him back out there."

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