EDMONTON - Matt Nichols hasn’t seen a replay of his gruesome injury, nor does he care to.
Living the play was enough for the Edmonton Eskimos quarterback who, despite the circumstances, was in good spirits Monday as the players cleared out their lockers.
Nichols suffered a dislocated ankle in Sunday’s 42-26 Eastern semifinal loss to the Toronto Argonauts. He will undergo surgery to repair the damage, but expects to be ready by the start of training camp next season.
“It’s actually the best-case scenario for what happened,” said Nichols. “Usually when you dislocate an ankle, I’ve been told usually both bones break and it can send a shock up to your knee and it can mess up your knee. But I just have a slight fracture in my fibula, which is a blessing I think. I’m basically being told that they have to put a pin in there, it’s kind of a minor surgery. I’m told the pin will come out and in four months I should be fully recovered.
“I’m going to definitely do everything possible to work hard this off-season. I plan on beating the (recovery) schedule that they give me and I plan on having a full month or two to really do some hard training and be able to make throws and do the things I need to do to be ready for camp.”
Considering the initial appearance of the injury, the prospect of having Nichols back for training camp may have been the only good news to come out of Toronto for the Eskimos.
Nichols was injured in the third quarter when Argonauts defensive lineman Ronald Flemons hauled him down from behind.
Nichols’ left foot was pinned underneath Flemons and ended up pointing in the wrong direction.
“I remember when I went down, the whole thing went kind of numb and I knew it was bad,” Nichols said. “I glanced down and saw it and I really didn’t think too much about what it meant. I just wanted it put back in place. I think the doctors did a great job of sprinting out there really as soon as I went down. Within moments they were pulling it back in place. I think that could be the reason why it’s as good in a position that it’s in right now.”
At the time, it appeared the injury could put Nichols playing career in jeopardy.
But despite never having suffered a serious injury dating back to his minor football playing days, the thought of never being able to play again didn’t cross Nichols’ mind.
In fact, he was more concerned with passing along information to Kerry Joseph, who was preparing to re-enter the game.
“It might have been a shock factor, I was actually making a couple of jokes out there and telling Kerry not to be in empty protection because they were blitzing too much out there,” Nichols said. “They were laughing at me saying that I should be a little more hurt than this. But I was trying to use a little bit of comedy. I knew it was something bad but I feel blessed they were telling me that four months from now I’ll be able to run around and I’ll be ready for camp.”
Dislocating an ankle was a tough way for Nichols to end a productive season where he moved up the depth chart to challenge for the starting role.
The native of Redding, California exceeded expectations this season and is likely to head into next year as the Eskimos top pivot.
“Matt has done everything he’s needed to do to be considered strongly for the quarterback of the future for this franchise,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “We’re very proud of the way Matt has handled the situation. He never let you guys (media) influence the way he worked, he never got a big head. He went out and continued with that blue-collar work ethic which he believed got him there.
“I truly believe, health withstanding, that Matt will do everything everything necessary to be a long-term quarterback for this franchise or any franchise.”
Nichols’ popularity in the Eskimos locker room was evident all season, but the true extent of the amount of respect he earned was showcased when the entire team came on the field to check on his status.
“It’s only a matter of time before he’s a star in this league and I think everybody caught glimpses of it,” said Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt. “You saw how our team reacted when he went down. It’s because of the type of player he is and what he means to our team. I’m excited to see what he does when he comes back next year.”