Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit running at practice following Achilles rupture, but return unclear

Jay DeMerit

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USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The road to recovery continues for Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit.

Just over three months after rupturing his Achilles tendon on opening day, the former US national team defender has started running on his own at practice.

“It’s been a long road,” the center back told reporters this week after a training session at the University of British Columbia. “But to be this stage, to be feeling athletic again is a step in the right direction.”

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When DeMerit’s rupture was initially announced, many were writing off his season, but it appears that if his progress continues, he could play a part before the campaign is out.

“We always try to push it, in the most sensible way,” DeMerit said. “My personality won’t let me take things for granted I suppose. I understand the situation and have from the beginning. Off the field, you try and do everything you can to get back on it as soon as possible.”

But just how close is the 33-year-old from returning to competitive action? It’s too early to get an accurate sense just yet, but he’s happy with the progress and hoping for the best.

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“It’s a little bit premature to say I’m back fit and healthy, because there’s definitely still a long road to go,” DeMerit said. “The initial diagnosis is six to eight months and to be running and doing athletic movements after just three, I think we’re on the road to if not beat the timeline, be right near it.”

The challenge now for DeMerit is balancing that desire to push his progress while not going too far and causing a setback. He was carrying an Achilles injury throughout preseason which was being managed by prolotherapy -- also known as proliferation therapy -- and he's well aware of how fragile that tendon can be when in a weakened state.

“The main thing you have to do is listen to your body,” DeMerit said. “I’m old enough now where I can hear the things where I might be pushing it a bit too far. You get through certain workouts and if there’s no repercussions, if there’s no extra soreness, then you know you’re on the right track and you can maybe push it a little more the next day.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.