Hip surgery has Brad Maynard punting fine again

For the first time in four years, Chicago Bears punter Brad Maynard can practice without feeling the pain.

Maynard had what he and team officials believed was a lingering, recurring, will-never-go-away groin muscle injury. That is what they thought for the longest time as it would improve, return, get better, come back and so on. All the while he endured it, knowing he couldn’t practice often.

Finally, they decided to look at his hip and that led to arthroscopic surgery in January. Doctors shaved down a bone spur, found a torn labrum that they repaired and found a torn tendon that they reattached. He doesn’t feel 100 percent, but he feels much, much better and he can practice again.

“It all made sense once we all found out what was wrong," said Maynard, who is entering his 14th season in the NFL and is in the final year of his contract. "They never understood because I had full strength. There was just a certain position when I would go to kick that was extremely painful.”

How much of a difference did it make for him? During the season, Maynard typically punts on Wednesdays and Fridays. He’d kick 15 to 20 balls each day. That was it. Now that he’s healthy, he’ll strike more than 100 balls on days that he is practicing. While the injury didn’t take away from his strength, it was painful and it prevented him from working on elements of his game.

Now the NFL’s active lead in punts and yards with Jeff Feagles retired, Maynard can set his sights on playing seven or eight more seasons to still be punting at 43 like Feagles did.

"Now I have my target," Maynard joked. "Feagles played when he was 43. I want to play as long as I can. I am kicking the ball as well as I ever have. I don't see what changes now."

Able to practice in earnest once again, Maynard should have the chance to maintain his longevity.

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