STILLWATER — Even with a dizzying array of uniform options last season, one piece of Brandon Weeden's game day attire always stayed consistent.
A black brace on his left knee.
The former Oklahoma State quarterback had no previous injury in his football or baseball career. But Weeden wore that brace purely for precautionary reasons, he said last week, in case a defender caught that lead knee that is often exposed while trying to knock him to the turf.
Could that same “just-in-case” philosophy have helped Cowboy starter Wes Lunt avoid the left knee injury he sustained against Louisiana-Lafayette?
It's easy to say now that perhaps it would have. But coach Mike Gundy said he had never really thought about Weeden wearing a brace — or requiring Lunt to do the same — until it was brought up to him last week. And even after Lunt's injury, which does not appear to be serious but is likely to keep him out of Saturday's Big 12 opener against No. 12 Texas, Gundy said wearing a brace or any other additional equipment has to be up to the player.
“They've got to do that on their own,” Gundy said. “I don't know we can ever protect (from injury completely). That would be any skill player. If he wants to wear a brace, that would be his choice.”
When asked if he would have worn a precautionary brace as a quarterback today, Gundy initially said no because he “couldn't stand” the one he had to wear when he hurt his knee during his OSU career. But by the end of his answer, he said he would possibly consider it.
“That drove me crazy,” Gundy said of the brace. “It may not affect other players like it did me. And the braces, maybe, I'm guessing, are probably considerably different than they wore back in the '80s. So I don't know. Maybe? I guess?”
J.W. Walsh, the Cowboys' starter for the time being, has never worn a brace, because it restricts the dual-threat quarterback's ability to run. And Lunt's injury certainly has not scared him into putting one on for the UT game.
“If the coaches ask me to wear one or if something were to happen to my knee, then I would,” Walsh said. “But for right now, I'd prefer not to have one on, just because it keeps it free and it allows me to move a lot faster without it.”
Since moving onto the NFL, Weeden has stopped wearing the knee brace because he has to use his legs more in the Cleveland Browns' offense, he said.
Maybe when Lunt returns to the field, he'll add the brace to his uniform repertoire. Maybe he should have been wearing one all along.
But only so many injuries can be prevented.