When Jonathan Allen first suffered his Lisfranc injury back in Week 6, there was a belief that the Redskins' first-round pick could return to the team in late December to help with a playoff push or gain more on-field experience.
But now that there is no playoff push to be had and only two games remaining on the schedule, Jay Gruden and the organization have decided that Allen will not see meaningful snaps again until next season.
"I don’t think we’re going to do anything with Jonathan," the head coach said Monday in Ashburn after Washington beat Arizona in Week 15. "I think by the time he gets back out to practice and gets in shape, I think the season will be over. He’s in good shape, but I think in football shape is a little bit different and we’ll probably just get him ready for the OTAs."
The move is absolutely the right one to make here. If the Burgundy and Gold still had four or five contests to play, they could get No. 95 back into all-important football shape and allow him to get valuable regular season reps in their final few matchups.
But the rehab from his foot injury — an injury that can linger and one that affects athletes in various ways — hasn't progressed at a fast enough pace for him to ease himself into a return. And with the organization this close to 2017's finish line, it's best not to rush him or force a comeback with what looks like a defensive building block.
Since Allen's departure from the starting lineup, the 'Skins defense has taken more than a few steps backward. He isn't the only person coordinator Greg Manusky is missing, of course, and his individual numbers weren't huge, but Allen was like a key part of a car engine: You may not have much of an idea of how crucial he is when he's suiting up, but the second he stops, you'll find out quickly how necessary he is.
"He was off to a good start, really," Gruden said of the ex-Alabama lineman. "I think his strength at the point of attack was outstanding, his ability to play the run was good and then we used him in nickel situations also, which he was pushing the pocket extremely well. Sack production didn’t really tell the story about how productive he was. I think he played very well."
The question with Allen when the Redskins drafted him was never his ability to play. Rather, it was his ability to stay healthy. As he heads into his first offseason as a pro, he'll look to improve as much as he can when it comes to the latter. And the Redskins are smart in letting him focus on that immediately.