Laurent Duvernay-Tardif just laughs when he hears the old adage.
The joke is that doctors make the worst patients, but the Chiefs offensive lineman assured everyone gathered after Tuesday’s minicamp practice that wasn’t the case as he rehabbed last season.
“It was my first experience being on the opposite side of the patient-physician relationship, and even though it’s kind of hard, I think you learn a lot,” he said. “I think I’m going to be a better physician because of that, you learn how to cope with the psychological challenge of being injured and I think I’m going to grow as a human and a future physician.”
Duvernay-Tardif, who graduated from medical school a year ago, broke his fibula and tore ligaments in his ankle against Jacksonville and was placed on injured reserve. Though he began practicing in late December and was officially activated prior to the AFC Championship Game, Duvernay-Tardif was inactive for the game and never returned to the field after starting the first five games of the year.
“It was tough,” he said. “When I had surgery, they told me anywhere between eight to 12 weeks and I knew it was going to be tight. I gave everything, pushing the limit every day in order to try to come back. I was short a little bit, I got activated the Seattle week I think, and it took me a little too long to get back in shape.”
Duvernay-Tardif admitted he could’ve been “functional” if he played in the AFC championship, but he wouldn’t have been 100 percent.
Now, though, Duvernay-Tardif feels completely healthy.
“I feel pretty good,” he said.
Duvernay-Tardif returns to an offensive line that looks a bit different from the one he left last season.
With Mitch Morse’s departure in free agency, Duvernay-Tardif is playing with a new center for the first time since he became a full-time NFL starter in 2015.
He’ll also have a new face on other side of Austin Reiter in Andrew Wylie, who earned the team’s rookie of the year award for playing in place of Duvernay-Tardif at right guard a season ago.
“I think you learn the strength and the weakness of everybody, you kind of go from there and building that chemistry and that relationship with all the players and being able to communicate,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “I really think we’re going to grow as a middle three with Andrew, Austin and myself in the middle.”
Though this portion of the offseason program is non-contact, Duvernay-Tardif feels the energy from his unit and its upbeat competition with the new-look defense.
“I think on an individual standpoint, the guys are really bringing it,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “It’s by far the most competitive
and fast and furious OTAs we’ve had so far, even though it’s no live contact.”