Julio Jones is set to return for the 2021 NFL season after dealing with a recurrent right hamstring strain that caused him to play in only 9 games last year. He went through season missing games on and off due to reaggravating the same area and now finds himself on a new team going into his 11th season raring to do it all over again. What makes this situation a bit more unique is that Jones had a procedure called PRP therapy, or plasma-rich platelets, in his right hamstring in December 2020, so it’s worth it to examine his viability as a WR on the Titans taking this as well as other factors into consideration.
Hamstring strains are a very common injury for this sport and his position, and tend to be caused by the sprinting and high-speed movements required. Studies show that almost one third of hamstring strains recur within the first year following return to sport; also subsequent injuries turn out to be worse than the original one. A premature return to play and less than stellar rehabilitation of the injury can lead to a higher chance of reinjury afterwards. And we have the added element of PRP which is a technique that is being used more and more in sports. PRP uses one’s own immune system in the form of their platelets as an injection to accelerate the healing of ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints. A retrospective study examined NFL players with hamstring injuries who underwent PRP vs those solely underwent rehab, and PRP was shown to lead to a faster return to play time, but no significant difference in days missed, time to return to practice, or injury recurrence. That being said, a faster return to play is good but not necessarily a game changer here, as he had all of offseason to recover.
Now keep in mind, we aren’t just looking at a spring chicken who injured their hamstring for the first time and that was their first injury. Julio has played 10 seasons and along with an extensive scoring rap sheet he also has an extensive injury history. He has injured his hamstring multiple times last season and in previous seasons as well. A betting man would wager that Julio is at great risk for reinjury and time being missed. Will he have another season of on-and-off play causing him to miss almost half the season? Maybe. However, he isn’t on the Atlanta Falcons anymore and the Titans may manage his body and playing time differently. It is understood that he is in the latter stages of his career and to get the most usage out of their newly acquired player there needs to be more caution exhibited with how he's played.
Julio should be able to make a full return, but it doesn’t look like the PRP treatment will lessen any predisposition to injury he has. The major limiting factors for him this season will be his age (he's 32), previous history of hamstring injury, and the strength and flexibility of the hamstring and surrounding musculature. I’ve never really been one to call a player “injury prone” because those words can be interpreted as a death sentence to the average fan. I’ll instead say you should be extra wary of this player and don’t put all your eggs in the Jones basket if you’re looking for a good receiver core to take you the distance.