The first of two operations in the last six-month period saw drill holes put through the bone to reconstruct the patella ligament, before more wires were inserted after his second fall.
Curnow will need to have the screws taken out as part of his rehabilitation before he plays again at any level.
Medical experts have told The Age he is at least eight weeks from playing competitive football and probably closer to 14 for an AFL return.
Betts will be joined by co-captain Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy, Mitch McGovern, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Lachie Plowman for Sunday’s clash with Brisbane at Ikon Park.
The absence of both McKay and Curnow for round one will lead to Levi Casboult and McGovern playing as the two key forwards against a tough Richmond defence.
And while coach David Teague will need all the numbers he can get in the forward half, he has difficult decisions to make at the other end of the ground.
With Marchbank on track to play against the Tigers and with the return of co-captain Sam Docherty and Tom Williamson, someone is going to miss out.
Fellow defenders Liam Jones, Jacob Weitering and Plowman are seen as locks in the team, while Docherty and veteran Kade Simpson pick themselves.
That leaves Williamson, Marchbank, Nic Newman and Petrevski-Seton – if he stays at half-back – battling it out for one position on the field and one bench spot.
Newman has had a faultless pre-season and the club has already floated playing Marchbank on the wing.
With a decent portion of Carlton’s core of youngsters in the 21-23 age range, Cripps said using youth as the excuse was no longer valid as the Blues attempted to make a meaningful climb up the ladder this year.
“They know they’re competing for spots,” Cripps said on SEN.
“Zac Fisher has had a really good pre-season and Will Setterfield – they’re probably two in the midfield that I think could really take the next step.
“Hopefully there’s a few surprise packets as well.”
One thing that will be a surprise is if Carlton actually prevail in the opening game of the season.
The Blues are staring down the barrel of a 10th straight defeat against Richmond, who they haven’t beaten since the 2013 elimination final when Essendon was kicked out of the finals in the midst of the doping scandal.
Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.