JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Today, Jaguars defensive back Terrance Knighton returned to the field with his teammates.
Knighton spent the first two days of training camp relatively on the sidelines after a devastating eye injury in April.
Knighton was at a nightclub in Jacksonville when a fight broke out. Knighton tried to get in the middle of the brawl and in the process, a broken bottle hit him in the face, rupturing his left eye.
"I got to the hospital and I seen how much my eye was bleeding and you know, I couldn't see and the doctors was telling me, 'Well, what can you see?' And I was like, 'I can't see anything,'" Knighton explained.
The defensive tackle could not see anything out of his left eye for three weeks.
"I did not think he was going to be able to retain the eye to be able to play again," shared Dr. Frank Bowden of Bowden Eye Associates. "He could just see light and dark and that's bad."
Dr. Bowden performed two different surgeries within one week, including an emergency procedure one Saturday night when Knighton called complaining of severe eye pressure. It took twenty stiches to hold together Knighton's splintered eye.
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"You know it just started to sink in you know like, well I play football," Knighton said quietly. "I mean, I gotta be able to see."
Knighton said the most difficult part of his injury was wondering why it had happened. He said the first two months after the injury were incredibly difficult, but Knighton finally realized it was out of his hands.
Dr. Bowden gives Knighton credit for taking control of his recovery, learning about the medications he is taking and keeping close tabs on how his eye feels.
"You know, sometimes I forget I have an eye injury," smiled Knighton. "You know, [be]cause I'm out there working out and driving ... It just feels good to finally be able to function again on my own."
Dr. Bowden said Knighton's eyes should not be "the limiting factor" in the defensive back's play this season.
Knighton said he finally understands why his injury happened and what he is supposed to learn from it.
"I wouldn't change it," nodded Knighton.
"I think it's a lesson learned you know what I mean and you know at this time in my life, being 26 years old I think, you know, it was time for me to have a eye-opener."
Last Wednesday, Knighton went into the doctor's office for a routine eye test. His left eye tested 20/20, but Knighton will continue to see Dr. Bowden every couple of weeks throughout the season to keep an eye on his healing.
Bowden explained that eye injuries can take six months to a year to fully heal. To help protect Knighton's eye, he will be wearing a helmet with added eye protection all season.