It was the exact scenario as the first day of training camp, and one that has repeated throughout the summer for the Chargers.
Russell Okung stood next to teammate Brant Weiss to bookend the left side of the horizontal line, a fitting place for the Chargers’ left tackle who missed his 14th training camp practice on Wednesday.
As he had on the morning of July 25, when Okung revealed that he suffered a pulmonary embolism in June, Okung wore a white hat and his No. 76 jersey to stretch with his teammates.
Perhaps the only difference was how fast Okung sprinted during the high-knees drill. It seemed Okung was going at a faster pace than usual, but there’s no way of knowing without a stopwatch. Okung then proceeded to watch the rest of practice from the sidelines.
There’s also no guessing when it comes to Okung’s return to practice, and it’s highly possible the team, Okung and his doctors don’t know when that will be.
Unlike a torn ACL or any other common football injury, there isn’t a standard recovery time for a pulmonary embolism. It all depends on how Okung’s body reacts to the treatment, and this serious health matter can’t be rushed.
Okung wasn’t exaggerating when he said the health scare was a near-death type of experience. That was confirmed by Dr. George P. Teitelbaum, an interventional neuroradiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.
“Could be a fatal event,” Teitelbaum said of what could have occurred if Okung ignored his chest pain and continued to participate in football activities. “You become short of breath, you could collapse, your blood pressure could fall.”
Teitelbaum, who isn’t associated with the Chargers and hasn’t treated Okung, said Okung’s return to football likely wouldn’t start until he’s off blood thinners, which help blood flow smoothly through the veins and arteries, and keep blood clots from getting bigger or forming. Okung said in his statement that blood clots caused him to have a pulmonary embolism.