Ondre Pipkins caused quite a stir in the Michigan Wolverines' football camp following his injury this past Friday.
Pipkins sustained a neck injury and the Wolverines rushed him to the hospital where he underwent a battery of tests and would return to watch practice during the same afternoon. Michigan fans got a dose of good news Monday when Pipkins, as reported by the Detroit News, returned to practice.
Four days is a quick turnaround. Especially following a neck injury serious enough to have the cart on the field and time spent in the MRI tube at the hospital. That's not to say he's coming back too early, there is no doubt that Michigan took the necessary precautions, made sure Pipkins passed the tests and worked rehab in the process.
However, just because Pipkins is cleared, doesn't mean he's out of the woods. Neck injuries are a peculiar beast. They don't often manifest themselves early and they require monitoring because slight changes in pressure, small swellings or pains can become massive ordeals. This is a big issue, not just for Pipkins' future as a football player; but for his overall well-being.
Getting back on the football field, psychologically following the terrifying ordeal that is a spine-boarding, is a great thing for a player's psyche. You get to test the parts that have been cleared. You get to get back to normal with your teammates.
For Pipkins, he'll carry extra responsibility with him every time he's out there on the field. He has to know when to tell a trainer something is off. The little twinges, a shooting pain or a throbbing pressure are not easily identified by anyone but him; and he has to avoid the desire to play through everything and just ask for help.
Truth be told, this is a hot button issue for me. I've been spine-boarded. I've done the couple hours in the hospital with MRIs and X-Rays and all that jazz. I've done the ultrasound, stim and combo rehab on the neck tissue. I've battled the swelling around my C4 and C5.
It's a very real thing for many football players and what comes with it, down the road, is more pain and more complications.
Ondre Pipkins is in a position now to speak up, instead of ignoring issues the way so many have before him. If he feels a shooting pain, say something. If coaches or trainers see him grabbing at the neck, pull him and check him out.
It is all about monitoring the situation to make sure that the young man maintains his health the best way possible. Let's hope for the best as Pipkins has the ability to be a truly special ball player going forward.