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Portland Trail Blazers Injury Updates: Meyers Leonard, Festus Ezeli, Noah Vonleh

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The regular season begins in less than one month. Will the Trail Blazers’ bigs be ready to go on opening night?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers-Media Day Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have three big men that are currently recovering from injury. As training camp begins and preseason nears, we caught up with them at media day to check on their progress.

Meyers Leonard

On April 8, Leonard underwent successful surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, and was given a 6-8 month timetable for recovery. On Monday, Leonard indicated that he will be cleared for full contact practice as soon as October 8, exactly six months after surgery. Barring an unexpected setback, he should be available for the start of the regular season on October 25. Perhaps sooner.

“I’m feeling amazing, honestly. My shoulder feels great. I met with my surgeon, Dr. ElAttrache, in L.A. last Thursday and he was extremely impressed with my strength, range of motion, and just how well the rehab process was going. I’m feeling good. He essentially told me I’m good to go on October 8, meaning 5-on-5 live contact—no restrictions.”

[Update: Leonard returned to practice Tuesday morning]

Festus Ezeli

Ezeli received an injection of bone marrow aspirate concentrate in his left knee on August 23. At the time, it was said that he would be sidelined for six weeks. Today being the 5-week mark, it remains unclear exactly how quickly Ezeli is recovering, though he seems to be making progress and will resume court activities in some capacity this week.

“My knee’s getting better. I started running last week and I think this week we’re going to start ramping up court activities. So it’s getting better, it’s getting stronger. I’m just excited about having such a great rehab team. I don’t have a timeline for myself but we’re just going based on how I feel.”

Noah Vonleh

Vonleh underwent a procedure to remove a bone fragment from his right thigh on August 31. Although his timetable is perhaps the murkiest, it is likely of least consequence as well, as he is expected to be on the outside looking in with respect to playing time this season. He was initially expected to miss 3-4 weeks and has only recently been cleared for light running and shooting. Despite lack of notable progress, Vonleh did shed some light on how the injury occurred.

“I suffered the injury the second week in August. I was playing pickup in L.A. at UCLA. I had a bone spur on the right side of my knee in high school and it got hit twice in the same spot within a 5-day span. The bone spur broke off and it was just moving around in there so they had to go in there and clean it up, but I’d say it was pretty much a minor procedure. I’m just glad it wasn’t nothing that would keep me out for months.”

It sounds like Leonard will return to action in short order, followed by Ezeli after some training. Vonleh remains a question mark, as he is behind his original timetable, but it would be surprising for him to miss significantly more time. The regular season is roughly one month away. Most likely, all three will be healthy enough to play by then, but we will continue to track their progress.