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Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Tyler Zeller out indefinitely

Nov 7, 2012, 12:10 PM EDT

Tyler Zeller, Jordan Crawford AP

Short of wearing a helmet, there was pretty much nothing Cleveland Cavaliers rookie center Tyler Zeller could have done to protect against this injury. Zeller has been ruled out indefinitely after Cleveland’s win over the Clippers on Monday night, making it a little more bitter than sweet for the Cavs. Zeller suffered the injury after he took an elbow to the face while battling for rebounding position with DeAndre Jordan, who as you may know, is a large man with equally large elbows.

Here’s the official word on the exact injury and the timetable for Zeller’s return from AP writer Tom Withers.

Out indefinitely is always scary, but we can take some educated guesses as to how long Zeller will be out of action. Although we don’t know the severity of the injury, it sounds as though Zeller will not need surgery. If you recall, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera suffered a non-displaced fracture of his orbital bone before the season began when he took a nasty grounder to the face.

Cabrera sustained his injury on March 20th, and was back in time for the season opener on April 5th. Although everyone heals differently, a little over two weeks seems like a decent benchmark for Zeller’s return, as his concussion symptoms should subside by then as well. Again, this all depends on the severity of the injury and Zeller’s body.

Okay, let’s trade the stethoscope for a whistle. Losing Zeller, the 17th pick of the draft, is disheartening after he put forth such a promising effort (15 points, 7 rebounds) against the Clippers. Zeller isn’t the type of player who will “wow” you with anything, but he runs the floor extremely well and can finish around the rim with either hand. Just on those merits alone (and his 7-foot frame), he’s a viable backup big man. Those don’t grow on trees. The Cavaliers have some sleeper appeal with Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao playing the way they are, but they’ll need all hands on deck.

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