He’d just made a leaping catch on the last day of open training camp but landed hard on his back on the way down. As Royal walked back to the huddle, he had trouble breathing. He decided to head to the locker room with the assistance of a trainer, but as he crossed the field he stopped in his tracks and knelt to the ground. Team doctors attended to Royal and moments later an ambulance came onto the field. He was put onto a stretcher and sent to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a bruised lung and a concussion.
Just over two weeks later, Royal returned to the field on Monday, taking part in practice.
“It was something you obviously don’t want to go through or see happen to anybody else,” Royal said. “It was a scare. But I’m glad it’s over. It kind of got (out of hand) with the reports that were (circulating), but I tried not to pay any attention to it. The people who knew what was really going on were the people on the inside in the circle and inside this locker room. What I was worried about was controlling what my family heard and what they were believing. So that was the main thing; making sure they were informed.”
Now, Royal has put the setback behind him and is working hard to play in the season opener on Monday night against the Houston Texans. The Chargers won’t release an injury report until Thursday, but Royal is hopeful he can suit up.
“It felt great to be back out there and just being around the guys again and not having to watch from the sideline,” he said. “It’s hard to explain the feeling of not being able to be out there with everybody, but it feels good to be back. My goal has always been to play in the first game, so I’ve been working like I was going to be back. That’s been my plan since day one. You never want to miss any games at all, especially the first one, so hopefully everybody feels good about my progress and I can get out there.”
One thing Royal will never forget from the unfortunate experience was the fan support. The wide receiver explained how he always knew San Diego had great fans, but the way they reacted to his injury taught him how special they are.
“I learned how great a fan base we really have,” he said with a smile on his face. “When something like that happens, everybody’s true colors are shown. It showed that the fans care about us as a football team, but also us as people. It’s one thing to be a fan of football but it’s another to be a fan of a person and their well-being. So to me, Chargers fans showed why they are such great fans.”
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