Another step in Jackson’s recovery, but no clear return date yet for Pistons
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AUBURN HILLS – Reggie Jackson has taken the next step toward a return to the Pistons, but because all steps are being taken on a severe ankle sprain it means that return remains cloudy.
Jackson has been cleared to begin “light running, shooting and continued ankle-strengthening exercises,” the Pistons announced Wednesday as they regrouped coming out of the All-Star break for the season’s final 25 games.
“I know I’m doing more. That’s all I know,” Jackson said after Wednesday’s practice. “Ran a little bit more over the break and I came in and ran today, had a great workout.”
With 25 games left over the final seven weeks, the Pistons don’t have the luxury of waiting for Jackson to get back – or to get to full speed – before starting their playoff push. They sit 1½ games out of the final playoff spot in the East and must play 15 of their 25 games on the road.
“We’d like to have him back as soon as possible, but it’s not like we’re sitting and waiting,” Stan Van Gundy said. “We’re trying to win every game we play. Our guys are confident that they’ve got enough right here to win and we’re trying to do that.”
Jackson suffered a grade 3 sprain, the most serious, which entails completely torn ligaments on Dec. 26, 57 days ago. He’s missed 24 games. The Pistons were 19-14 when he was injured and went 4-12 over their next 16 games before adding Blake Griffin. They’re 5-3 with Griffin in the lineup.
On an intellectual level, Jackson understands he’s making progress toward a return. But emotionally, starting a higher level of rehabilitation reminds him that his return remains a way off.
“It honestly makes the recovery process a little crappier,” he said. “You feel good that you’re getting better, but you’re still not quite there. I’m making strides, but it’s not where I want to be. I want to be out there with my guys playing and I want to be fully healthy.”
Jackson is running at full body weight on a treadmill now, but that’s a long way from cutting at full speed or the stop-and-go movement required on every defensive possession. How long will it take to go from running to that?
“I understand injuries happen. You’ve got to come back fully healthy,” said Jackson, who seemed tentative when he returned after missing the first 21 games last season following a bout of knee tendinosis that required a platelet-rich plasma injection. “That’s the job of the trainers. They’re doing a great job of monitoring me.”
“He’s certainly not cutting, so he’s just starting the process here at eight weeks to get back,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know when it’ll be. When he’s ready, he’s ready.”