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Behind the Chutes: Willingham Eyes Mid-September Return

By: Justin Felisko August 22, 2014@ 05:00:00 PM

Sean Willingham began rehabbing his hip in Georgia.

PUEBLO, Colo. – Sean Willingham began rehabbing his dislocated hip Friday at Advanced Rehabilitation in Summerville, Georgia, after X-rays taken last Friday revealed no serious damage.

Willingham missed the Built Ford Tough Series second-half opener in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last weekend after feeling lingering discomfort in his hip after a grisly wreck at the Newark, New Jersey, BlueDEF Velocity Tour event on June 28 that also gave him a concussion.

The 33-year-old said he was feeling a “pinching” feeling in his hip while attempting to stretch it Friday, but said that by the end of his first treatment the feeling had subsided.

“That is the main discomfort. It was pinching when I was stretching it,” Willingham said. “I just was waiting until I started therapy, and I knew stretching was going to make it feel better. We went through a bunch of exercises and did some stretches.”

Willingham was sent home today with instructions on which stretches to perform this weekend about two to three times a day. He will continue going to physical therapy two times a week in hopes of returning to BFTS competition in mid-September, possibly at the Sept. 19-20 Desert Showdown in Laughlin, Nevada.

“I am just taking it week by week right now,” he said. “It just depends on how I feel and where I am going to plan my return at. It could be later than that, but it definitely is going to be no sooner than Laughlin.”

It is not the first injury Willingham, who is currently 18th in the world standings, has had to contend with this year. He broke his fight foot in March at the PBR Passport Invitational in Tacoma, Washington, and had suffered a jaw injury a week later at the Ty Murray Invitational in New Mexico. Regardless, he was able to battle through the two injuries to finish the first half with a 40 percent riding average – his highest since 2009, when he finished a career-best 12th in the world standings by covering 44.09 percent of his bulls.

Willingham wants to ensure that when he returns later this season he is 100 percent and not just 80 or 90 percent. The 13-year veteran understands there will be plenty of money on the line to win at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals and he wants to make sure he is ready.e

“There is a lot of money to win out there, so if I am not 100 percent I don’t have a good chance at it,” he said. “I hate missing bull ridings like anybody else, but sometimes you have to let stuff heal up.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko