NORMAN - Oklahoma freshman defensive end D.J. Ward underwent surgery to remove his spleen Tuesday, Sooners coach Bob Stoops announced.
“We haven’t heard how it’s all gone,” Stoops said.
His recovery is expected to take six weeks, according to Stoops.
“That’s what they usually are, give or take some,” Stoops said. “We don’t know how it will go after that. So we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Two high-profile players who have sustained spleen injuries in recent years were tight end Jason Witten and quarterback Chris Simms. Witten suffered a lacerated spleen in a preseason game last season and returned just more than three weeks later for the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener.
Simms suffered a spleen injury in a 2006 game for Tampa Bay but returned to play later in the game. After the game, the Bucs’ third of the season, he underwent an emergency splenectomy and couldn’t resume running for 12 weeks and didn’t return to action that season.
Ward’s condition is different, though, in that it is more illness than injury.
“It was something where I guess he had an enlarged spleen,” Stoops said. “It had nothing to do with contact or anything.”
It’s the latest setback in a string of them for Ward, who did not play as a senior in high school and couldn’t practice or work out with the team until days before the spring game.
Ward graduated from Southmoore in December and enrolled at OU in January but could not work out with the team until his paperwork was processed by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
That didn’t happen until three days before the Sooners’ spring game in April, and Ward had to work out without pads for two days before making his debut in pads during the spring game.
He was thought to have a chance to compete for playing time at a position where the Sooners lost starters R.J. Washington and David King from a season ago.
Stoops said he hadn’t considered whether Ward will need to take a redshirt season.
“It’s way too early to say that,” Stoops said. “We’re not even into the season. We’re still two-and-a-half weeks from the season, so not necessarily.”
A six-week recovery time could put Ward back in time for the fourth game of the season, at Notre Dame on Sept. 28.
What is a splenectomy?
Sooners freshman defensive end D.J. Ward underwent a splenectomy Tuesday morning to remove his spleen after the organ became inflamed.
The spleen is an organ that sits under the rib cage on the left side of the abdomen. It helps fight infections, filters material such as old and damaged blood cells and produces some red and white blood cells.
Enlargement of the spleen is typically caused by infections, liver disease or cancer.
The spleen can be removed laparoscopically.
After the spleen has been removed, patients are more susceptible to infections.
Source: Mayo Clinic