Injury-Plagued Season Appears To Be Over For Strong Safety LaRon Landry
(Originally posted 2:58 p.m.; Updated 7:58 p.m.)
ASHBURN – When LaRon Landry did not practice on Nov. 9 with soreness in his left Achilles’ tendon, he insisted it was more a precautionary measure than any sort of real concern.
“It’s just a little speed bump, just a little caution sign,” he said the following morning. “I’ll take care of it right now before it gets too bad.”
Landry continually downplayed any real significance to the injury over the following weeks. He remained upbeat, thinking the irritation was mild and could be healed with rest. Even after he did not play against Dallas on Nov. 20, Landry said sitting “helped tremendously,” though he added he could have played in the game.
Privately, though, he was concerned. He expressed doubts about the health of the tendon to the team’s medical staff and spoke to head coach Mike Shanahan about the pain it caused him. He asked to see a specialist, which he finally did Wednesday. The recommendation? Stop playing for the rest of the year.
And so, as Shanahan said yesterday afternoon, the team will put Landry on injured reserve as soon as today, ending his season prematurely for the second consecutive year.
“He has not been healthy,” Shanahan said. “He’s been out there working out and he’s working hard in rehab, and he just hasn’t been able to go.”
The move will end what has been a lost season for Landry, who originally sustained microtears – small, non-complete rips in the tendon – in the Redskins’ game against Philadelphia last November. At the time, the strong safety elected not to undergo surgery, instead undergoing electrotherapy and platelet-rich plasma treatment to attempt to stimulate tissue regeneration.
The thought was Landry would avoid a prolonged recovery that typically results from surgery and return much sooner, gambling that he’d be ready for training camp and have a stellar season in the final year of his rookie contract.
Instead, Landry again faces the likelihood that he will need to have surgery on the tendon, severely dampening the chances not only of receiving a sizeable, multi-year contract but also that he’d even be ready to play at the beginning of next season.
It’s a significant blow to the Redskins, who will finish the season with rookie DeJon Gomes, a fifth-year draft selection out of Nebraska, filling in at strong safety. The team expected to pair Landry with Oshiomogho Atogwe, who signed a five-year, $26 million contract before the season, to form one of the better defensive tandems in the league, but with Landry appearing in only eight of the Redskins’ 13 games and Atogwe missing three, they were together for just five games.
“I thought those two would be kind of like Ryan Clark and Troy [Polamalu] in Pittsburgh,” said defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, referring to the team’s feared safeties. “It hasn’t worked out that way obviously. Some things don’t work out.”
Atogwe originally strained a hamstring in training camp and was later bothered by a sprained knee and an undisclosed toe injury midway through the season. He will proceed through the remainder of the season as a backup, with Reed Doughty, who has made eight starts, taking over as the starting free safety.
“I mean, we had glimpses of it,” safeties coach Steve Jackson said, referring to the pair’s ability to cause problems for opposing offenses. “It’s unfortunate that the health issues sidetracked both of those guys. It’s just been one of those years. They’re both disappointed that they didn’t get the opportunity to go out and show everybody what they could do as a unit.”
It’s been disappointing for Landry individually as well. Both Shanahan and Haslett have continuously referred to his 2010 season, in which he had 85 tackles in nine games before getting hurt, as one worthy of defensive player of the year awards.
“He was a playmaker,” Haslett said. “Obviously, the way he plays the game with power and speed, it brings something to the table that a lot guys don’t have and it’s hard to find in the league.”