Injury update: Al Jefferson expects to play in season opener

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Bobcats fans can breathe easy now.

Bobcats center Al Jefferson told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer today that it is "very realistic" he'll play in season opener against Dwight Howard and the Rockets.

Jefferson sprained his ankle in the Bobcats' preseason game against the Heat, which left many worried that he might miss an extended period of time. This concern is compounded due to a sudden dearth of centers after Brendan Haywood's stress fracture. The Bobcats aren't the deepest team at the center position and a loss of Jefferson would have stretched them very thin.

It's great that Jefferson is feeling great about his ankle but I hope that the team doctors are sure to make sure that he's not being overconfident or overeager to return if there's a possibility he might not be. Ankle injuries can nag at a player for an extended period of time if not dealt with properly and the Bobcats need to be sure that the chance of re-injuring his ankle is minimized. The last thing they need is for Jefferson to go out when he's not ready and hurt his ankle again.

A return of Jefferson should also mean a little more stability in the offense. Jefferson has so far only played one full game and half a second game for the Bobcats and during his short absence the team has faced major shooting woes against the Bucks, a game in which the starters 9-for-43 from the field. The following game saw improved offense but still, Jefferson's offense would help the scoring balance.

If the earliest Jefferson can return is the first game of the regular season, then so be it. It's a shame, however, that he won't be able to join the rest of the team during during the preseason to work out the kinks they find as they get their first competitive games under their belt. He and Clifford and the team will have to work those out on the fly during the regular season.

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