FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – In the matter of a just a few hours last December, New York Jets second year safety Rontez Miles went from getting ready for his second NFL appearance to possibly losing his right leg to amputation. Now fully healthy, Miles is back on the field again after a scare six months ago that almost cost him a limb.
It was the middle of December and Miles was activated to the roster after spending a good chunk of the season on the practice squad. The hard-hitting Miles, who played his college football at tiny California (Pennsylvania) but has loads of potential, sustained an injury in practice that led to a diagnosis of Compartment Syndrome. The hit he suffered that Thursday in practice caused the blood in Miles' leg to stop moving, leading to some pain and discomfort.
It was a routine, overcast December morning and a normal practice for the Jets. Miles broke on a slant route and a defensive back and a wide receiver simultaneously ran through his right leg while he was in the air trying to make a play on the ball. He went down in a world of hurt but eventually got up, dusted it off and finished practice. He didn't think anything of the pain, he said, he just wanted to get back to practice.
- Celebrity deaths 2018: All the stars we lost too soon 45 Pictures
- 10 finalists for TIME Person of the Year 2018 11 Pictures
He went through the full weightlifting session after practice. An under the radar player, someone on the cusp of making the roster, Miles'statement to be on the two-deep would be enhanced with a start or two at the end of the year. He wanted to play in this game.
In the locker room after, he even sported a brace on his leg and despite this he boldly said that he would play that Sunday. Instead, John Mellody, the Jets' head athletic trainer, was rushing him to the hospital upon a close look at the leg.
“If John Mellody hadn't taken me and I was looked at, who knows what could have happened. Could have been devastating. Basically your leg can hold so much pressure and mine was beyond the limit. They had to cut it open immediately,” Miles told Metro last week. He had surgery that same day.“That's one of the possibilities, amputation. But the fact that John Mellody caught it – he said if he was wrong about what he saw then good for me. But he didn't want to risk it.”
So Miles went in just a few hours from a game that he hoped would be a big moment in his career to possibly losing his leg. He was on the active roster and looked like he might see some snaps not just on special teams but also in the secondary, a big step in his career and development. Now he was wondering if he might ever be healthy again and walk unassisted.
Not surprisingly, Miles ended up missing the rest of the season. On Friday, he was in the team's facility as he has been much of the calendar year. He's working hard and looking forward to getting back to where he was at last year, challenging for the two-deep.
“Way better. If I had sustained the injury early last season, I would have been back midseason. It just happened that it was the last two to three weeks. I've been going since Phase 1. Really no limitations or anything like that,” Miles said.“I did my rehab near Pittsburgh and it was great. Was good to be back for a bit. Now I'm feeling good, it's not bothering me at all. I'm able to do do everything. Really excited to be back.
“If it wasn't for John Mellody who knows what might be the case right now. Who knows, he might have saved my career, you know? Maybe my leg too. You just don't know.”