Injury Bug Hits the Redskins Early, Especially Along Offensive Front
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Less than a week through training camp and the Washington Redskins are already tangling with the injury bug that they so desperately need to avoid.
Since the end of last season — and perhaps before — the durability of right tackle Jammal Brown has been in question. Following a nagging hip injury from last season, head coach Mike Shanahan praised Brown for his work over the offseason and his regular participation in yoga and pilates, which focused on improving Brown’s flexibility and recovery in his hip and groin.
Brown ended up missing the team’s first practice last week and has since been placed on the Redskins PUP list. Brown is scheduled to see a doctor on Tuesday regarding his ailing hip, but the outcome doesn’t look good.
Considering the lingering health questions, many already anticipated a slow start for Brown. His potential backup, second-year player Willie Smith, became a natural focal point.
During afternoon practice yesterday, Smith was steamrolled by Rob Jackson in one-on-one drills and twisted his knee. Although Smith was reportedly walking around practice following the incident, he is scheduled to receive an MRI on Tuesday and some reports labeled it “not good”.
Starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger returned to the Redskins this season after tearing both the ACL and MCL in the same knee last October. During the first couple of practices, ‘Steiger appeared rejuvenated and returned to his early form of last year. On Monday, however, ‘Steiger underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will likely miss the remainder of the preseason.
Although Shanahan noted that ‘Steiger could return as early as the third preseason game, he is erring on the side of caution. Shanahan confirmed that team doctors examined ‘Steiger’s knee and that both the ACL and MCL are sound. The surgery was to remove particles in the knee cartilage after ‘Steiger began to experience some soreness following the team’s first two practices.
As any good coach would, Shanahan has backed his linemen and noted that the added depth will go a long way this season.
“We do have some depth, which is nice, so if you do lose one or two guys, you’re expecting some guys to come in and fill the void,” Shanahan said (via Mike Jones of the Washington Post).
Shanahan was sure to mention the progression of second-year guard Maurice Hurt and coaches appear to be comfortable with six-year veteran Tyler Polumbus in the case that he starts at right tackle. Thinning the depth at such a significant position, however, and so early on in the season, is far from reassuring.
In addition to the three crucial injuries/setbacks to the offensive line, the Redskins also lost recently-signed free agent linebacker Jonathan Goff for the year after he suffered a torn ACL, while starting fullback Darrel Young became day-to-day after straining his hamstring.
In an attempt to be as optimistic as possible, the Redskins do have enough to recover. Sure, you’d like to have Jammal or Willie at right tackle, but Polumbus isn’t exactly chopped liver. And on the other side, while ‘Steiger is the team’s best left guard, his knee is more of a setback at this point than an actual injury. In the unfortunate case that ‘Steiger can’t go, getting an early look at rookie Josh LeRibeus isn’t the end of the world.
When it’s all said and done, the real concern for the team and Redskins fans is keeping Robert Griffin III off his back. Some practice reports imply that the defensive line has owned the offensive line thus far. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps the Redskins defensive line is that good. But if not, the Redskins have already been forced to take a few steps back rather than take a single step forward.