Throughout training camp, NFL teams are well accustomed to cutting players who are falling short of expectations. In an interesting twist, the New Orleans Saints have done the same with a couple of doctors on the team’s medical staff. Team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri were fired on Wednesday after the Saints discovered that cornerback Delvin Breaux had been misdiagnosed. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise on his leg, only to later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, an injury that will keep Breaux out for at least four to six weeks.
When Breaux was initially diagnosed with a bone bruise, he appeared to be the one heading out of town. The Saints were reportedly weighing their options with regard to trading Breaux amidst frustration that he is frequently injured and the perception that he’s unable to play through the pain of an injury. Of course, playing through a broken leg is different from being able to play through a bone bruise. Once Breaux was given the correct diagnosis, he was off the hook and doctors Jones and Suri were assigned the blame.
Saints head coach Sean Payton has tried to make it clear that Jones and Suri were not fired solely for the misdiagnosis of Breaux. There are reports that this is not the first time mistakes were made by the New Orleans medical staff. For whatever reason, Payton was particularly frustrated with Breaux being misdiagnosed, making it the final straw for the two members of the medical staff.
“I think it’s not one event, it probably builds up over a period of time,” Payton explained to the media regarding the fired doctors. “You’re not gonna bat a thousand here, but you’re just hoping that more often than not, you’re getting the right information.”
Payton then held a team meeting to address the situation with Saints players. According to New Orleans punter Thomas Morstead, the team’s union rep, Payton did a good job of reassuring that the team’s support staff, including team doctors, have the players’ “best interest at heart and are competent.”
Medically speaking, diagnosing a bone bruise requires a different test than diagnosing a bone fracture. Broken bones will typically be diagnosed using x-rays. With Breaux, it was only after an x-ray that he received the correct diagnosis. Meanwhile, an MRI will typically be used to confirm a bone bruise.
To be fair, a bone bruise and fractured bone may have similar symptoms, most notably, pain and swelling, not to mention gait difficulty. Still, considering how valuable players like Breaux are to teams like the Saints, there’s little excuse for team doctors not performing all the necessary tests before giving Payton and the coaching staff a firm diagnosis.
As for Breaux, the fractured fibula will keep him from being available for Week 1 and will likely keep him out for the first month of the regular season. He was competing for a starting spot on the New Orleans defense, and his injury leaves the Saints with little experience at cornerback, heading into the season. Ken Crawley is penciled in at one spot after getting plenty of game action as a rookie last year, although P.J. Williams, De’Vante Harris, and rookie Marshon Lattimore also have little NFL experience.
It’s important to note that the Saints had the worst pass defense in the NFL last season, so the loss of Breaux is significant. At the same time, the Saints are also searching for new members to join their medical staff following the frustrating series of misdiagnosed injuries.