Information about Taylor Martinez' foot injury was released today when Taylor's father, Casey Martinez sent an email to media outlets describing the situation. CN did not receive the email, but full details are available from Mitch Sherman of ESPN and Sam McKewon of the Omaha World Herald.
Dr. Mark Quist of Carolina Foot and Ankle provided a diagnosis of "plantar plate tear of the second metatarsal phalangeal joint", which might as well be goobledygook to me as it might anyone else who isn't particularly familiar with anatomy.
Corn Nation reached out to a pair of medical people for further explanation of "plantar plate tear of the second metatarsal phalangeal joint".
From Adam Finzen, who asked me not to label him a "Dr.", but stated he is "technically a student in Podiatric medicine":
The plantar plate is a thickened ligament where the long bones (metatarsals) of the feet meet with the toe bones (phalanges), called the metatarsophalangeal joint. The thickening is to allow you to put weight on that area without causing injury to the bones or joint, acting like a cushion.
It also allows the long bones to stay in contact with the ground as the foot moves through the phases of each step, which is important in balance and power while running and walking. Attached to each side of the plantar plate is the deep transverse metatarsal ligament, which keeps the heads of the metatarsals (long bones) together and keeps the foot function during a step tight and together.
This is why Taylor couldn't run the same or plant his foot properly to throw. A tear of any kind in that area can and will lead to a disruption in the normal step function of the foot.
Also, as with any foot injury, it takes forever to heal.
And like good patients, we got a second opinion, this one from Dr. Nicolas A. Lewis, a physical therapist by trade, but I also contribute and edit for both Mid-Major Madness and Hustle Belt (both SBN sites).
So look at your hand, right? You have the wrist, which is the carpal bones, the palm of your hand where the metacarpal bones sit, and then your fingers which are the phalanges. Your foot is identical, except instead of carpal -> metacarpal -> phalanges it goes tarsal(ankle) -> metatarsal(midfoot) -> phalanges(toes). So your second metatarsal phalangeal (MP) joint is the joint on your second toe (the one next to your big toe) that is directly at the base of the toe and above the ball of your foot.
As far as the plantar plate, that's on the underside of each of your MP joints, and serves two jobs - first, to give a little extra padding, and second, to prevent extreme motions, specifically splaying or hyperextension of your toes. The second toe is actually the most common plantar plate to get injured, and it is almost always from excessive pronation, or rolling in, of the forefoot. That said, it's most frequently seen in middle-aged women (sorry, T-Mart).
This is actually the exact same injury that sidelined Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon for six games last season, and anyone who watched that guy play this year can see that he recovered just fine. That said, recovery for such an injury can vary greatly because it's in such a complex and involved location in the body. Typical return to activity is 3-4 weeks, but return to sport is obviously different.
The discrepancy between Mr Finzen's and Dr. Lewis' prognosis in time to heal explains why Nebraska might have felt like Martinez was still able to play during the season. Pure speculation indicates that Martinez might have felt he could go as well.
The past is done, as is Martinez' career at Nebraska. Martinez' focus is now on performing well for Nebraska's Pro Day on March 6th.