In a year that saw 15 Redskins hit the injured/reserve list, here are updates on several players that cleaned out their lockers on Monday in the middle of rehabbing and recovering.
While the usual faces made their way into Redskins Park on Monday -- to clear out their lockers, say their final goodbyes, give parting thoughts to the media -- several players returned to the facility that had been absent for most of the year.
The Redskins placed 15 players on the injured/reserve list throughout the last five months, a staggering number in which the majority missed hefty chunks of time, starting before or just after the beginning of the regular season.
Not everyone returned to collect their belongings, the non-essentials that stayed put and unguarded for the last several months, but those that did harbored positive spirits about their recoveries, their perspective on the past season and their excitement for getting back to the playing field.
The ACL/MCL injury bug spread to tight end Derek Carrier’s right knee towards the end of the season, when the former 49er acquired via trade went down early during the Redskins’ victory over the Bears in mid-December.
“I’ll probably just be here rehabbing as far as this goes,” Carrier said. “That’s probably the smartest decision to work with the trainers here.”
Carrier was the third Redskins’ tight end to hit the injured/reserve list after
“Still been able to lift upper body, so definitely keeping the upper body strength up, doing a little bit of cardio, as far as kind of incorporating that with the lift, with some upper body stuff, that’s really all I can do at this point,” Carrier said of his current rehab. “Obviously you’re going to lose some muscle in the injured area, so it’s trying to keep that joint mobile and then when I’m able to, get some strength back in there.”
The team’s biggest free agent signing this past offseason, cornerback Chris Culliver played through lingering injuries during the season but suffered the most painful one during a Thanksgiving Day practice.
Culliver had already missed three games during the season after dealing with pain and weakness in his left knee and missed the entire 2013 season with a torn left ACL, although an MRI performed on that knee this season showed no structural damage.
“It all depends, you know, pretty much seven to ten months, you know what I mean?” Culliver said of his expected rehab. “I feel good about where I’m at right now, and like I said, we’re just progressing and just keep ramping it up. It’s a long offseason, and like I said, taking my time, and just keep getting right.”
Culliver said he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season.
“You will see me on the field this season,” he said. “You might see me in and out of OTAs or something, something like that, but like I said, definitely in the season.”
Just three weeks before the regular season, after learning the Redskins playbook, about his teammates and the culture in Loudoun County, Va., linebacker Junior Galette had his shot at redemption turned away.
Specifically, he collapsed in the middle of the field in late August, just moments after getting off the ball and hearing a snap in his Achilles. With that, the team lost an elite pass rusher, one primed to make a comeback and prove he was worth the gamble.
In between then and now, Galette began his rehab at Redskins Park and has adapted to living in Northern Virginia.
“I’m not going to Louisiana. This is my home. I’m in Ashburn. This is my home,” Galette said. “I’m staying here. Nowhere else. I’m serious about this. It’s part of the journey. I’m not playing. I’m serious about this. I’m here. It’s part of my journey. That’s how serious I am.”
After joining the Redskins, Galette was welcomed with open arms by teammates and coaches. The reception made it seem as if he had been playing in Washington for the last five years. Really, his injury, which included pushing around a scooter everywhere, watching (and yelling at) Redskins games on the television, just believing he’ll be able to return for 2016 and repay the organization for giving him a second chance.
“In order for you to progress, you gotta go through some type of pain in every aspect no matter what it is, you know, you got to go through some type of uncomfortability, you know what I’m saying, you got to be uncomfortable,” Galette said. “I was there and I embraced it and I’m here now at a level mentally I’ve never been in my life and I’m just ready to attack this offseason like I never have before and I just want to prove who I am as a player.”
For the second year in a row, Ihenacho couldn’t compete for the majority of an NFL regular season. In 2014, it was his left foot. In 2015, it was his left wrist.
Several months removed from surgery, which required a pin to be inserted and then removed, Ihenacho has stayed in shape, doing lower body work and eventually progressing to strengthening his wrist.
“I’m not playing right now but as far as like in the weight room, I’ve been doing a lot,” Ihenacho said. “I can’t hit anybody though. I mean, if I could hit somebody I would hit somebody right now.”
Ihenacho will meet with his doctor again in March to be cleared for football activities and expects to be ready to go once minicamp comes around.
“I’s not like it’s a foot injury or knee injury, it’s a wrist injury,” he said. “If the whole football season was played like flag football, then I would be able to play but it’s not. I’ll be ready to go minicamp.”
As can sometimes be the case, when a player gets injured early during the regular season, it can feel like a blessing in disguise. While a lost season is never wanted -- personally or by the team -- the option to repair and mend ailing injuries is usually a fruitful consolation.
As his left ankle healed, Lauvao decided to clean up some other issues, namely in his feet. Over the course of the offseason, he’s had five procedures done to both feet, including two major surgeries, one that finished up just less than two weeks ago.
He said doctors sawed off bone on his first metatarsal and made a slight incision in his peroneal tendon in the right foot and he expects the healing process to take three to six months. Lauvao hopes to begin walking at some point next week and then to be able to participate in OTAs.
“It’s not like the movies, man. It’s not a feel-good story obviously in the end,” Lauvao said. “But one thing I will say though is there’s a lot of wear and tear on your body. The one thing I feel like as players around the league you master the art of playing hurt if that makes any sense. You got to give the people what they want like you said.
“If it’s something you’re passionate about, you’ll do whatever it takes. The one thing man, I’m real humble just from having a different perspective, but at the same time I’m just grateful and I’m happy for my peers you have no idea. These guys have made me proud to the point where I wish I could just be there, but you know.”
Paul’s season ended just as soon as it began. During the team’s first preseason game in Cleveland, Paul broke and dislocated his left ankle, a gruesome image to digest, especially after Paul had worked his way up the depth chart and had signed a three-year contract just months before.
“I came around here a lot rehabbing and stuff, but personally for me, I like to be physical,” Paul said. “It was hard for me and I would try to get there earlier and do my stuff before everyone comes, because I just hate for people to see me in the weakened state that I’ve been in. I’m just trying to get back to where I was.”
Paul expects to be back for OTA’s this season and said he is currently jogging at about 80 percent. He expects to migrate to the treadmill soon but also wants to bulk up about 25 pounds to where he was in August, around 255.
“I’ve got to go see Dr. Anderson in a couple months,” Paul said, “but we’re progressing and I’m excited about the progress.”