RICHMOND—The Redskins’ injury list is starting to grow. Fortunately, during the first four days of training camp there has been only one major injury, Bashaud Breeland’s sprained MCL. Even that injury seems unlikely to keep him out of a regular season game he’s eligible to play in. (he has been suspended for Week 1).
But there have been some nicks here and there. On Sunday DeSean Jackson watched practice with a dislocated finger. Also missing were CB Tevin Michel (shoulder) and OT Willie Smith (Achilles). RB Matt Jones left practice and watched with an ice pack on his right knee.
But a lot of the injury-related attention is going to two players who are healthy for the time being. Tight end Jordan Reed may have Pro Bowl talent but injuries have cost him a chance to display his abilities. In two years in the NFL he has missed 12 games and has been either on the injury report or on injured reserve for 17 of the 32 games he has been on the roster.
Nobody is saying that running back Chris Thompson will ever go to a Pro Bowl but he has speed, a valued commodity. He was the kick and punt returner as a rookie in 2013 but a shoulder injury landed him on injures reserve for the last 12 games of the season. Last year various nagging injuries cost him a spot on the 53-man roster but he was elevated from the practice squad for two late season games.
You could say Reed and Thompson have been unlucky but Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that injuries are about more than luck.
“Well, a lot of it is luck but a lot of it is also what you’re doing in the weight room to get yourself ready and how you’re taking care of your body off the field,” said Gruden. “A lot of it is just dumb luck. Jordan has had a couple unfortunate injuries, and same with Chris. They’re both tough guys, I like to think. And knock on wood, they look excellent out there right now.”
The old adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure comes into play here as well.
“Some of those guys we have got to make sure they get treatment before and after practice even if they don’t have any injuries,” said Gruden. “They have got to take care of their bodies, they’ve got to ice their bodies down and do what the trainers tell them. And so far, those guys are on the right path.”
Preventive measures are not just taking place in the trainer’s room. Here is what I observed in practice earlier this week:
Pre-practice stretching seems to be more thorough this year than it was in the past. Mike Clark has them doing precise exercises to stretch hamstrings, Achilles, cores, a about anything else that could be strained or sprained.
Reed is very conscious of the need for him to keep himself on the field. Talking to a group of reporters, Reed seemed to have injury avoidance on the top of his list of priorities.
He had a stem cell treatment to his right knee in June, a procedure that kept him out of most of OTAs and minicamp. The hope is that the treatment will help keep him on the field.
“Everything’s great right now,” he said “I’ve just got to stay on top of it . . . This past month I was full go I’ve just been strengthening and running a stuff this whole last month.”
He was asked what he needed to do to take the next step as a player.
“Stay healthy, man, that’s what I’ve got to do, man,” he said. “I think if I can stay healthy and play 16 games I can do a lot more for this offense.”
While Reed still has plenty to learn about playing tight end in the NFL, he can still be productive while he’s learning, as long as he is on the field.
Thompson comes into his third Redskins training camp healthy for the first time. He said that his shoulder was bothering him some last year and that affected his performance, particularly in pass protection. Thompson had some other nagging injuries last year that led to his release when the team cut down to 53 players. While on the practice squad he got healthy and was able to get in some snaps late in the season.
Unlike Reed, Thompson is trying not to think about potential injury problems.
“I was a little bit worried about the shoulder coming into training camp last year but now I’m not worrying about injuries because I can’t control that stuff,” he said.
So we have two different approaches by two different players. We will see how things work out for them.