Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at email@example.com.
To Stay Healthy, Jammal Brown Putting His Best Foot Forward
ASHBURN – If Jammal Brown looks funny while he walks, he’ll have to be forgiven. He’s just trying to do it like everybody else.
Brown, the Washington Redskins’ right tackle, was born with his feet slightly rotated at the ankle, the toes pointed outward and the heels inward. After spending an offseason trying to get to the bottom of his chronic hip issue, which required surgery in 2009 and forced him from three of the final four games last year, he finally looked to his lower half.
It’s an interesting theory, but one that Brown is finally hoping will help him stay on the field.
“It feels real awkward, but just during the day at the house, every time I walk, I try to line my toes up [straight],” Brown said last week at Redskins Park. “It doesn’t help right away. It’s just something that’s a process, but yeah, I definitely feel the difference from just walking like that.”
Staying healthy is important for Brown, 31, who signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract to return to the Redskins before last season. It was viewed as a pricy deal for a player who has struggled to stay on the field, but both Brown and the Redskins hope the talent and ability that made him a Pro Bowler with New Orleans after the 2006 and 2008 seasons will return this fall.
Brown remembered a conversation he had with Colt Brennan, a quarterback with the Redskins in 2008 and 2009, about hip injuries. Brennan, at the time, said he had taken up yoga to assist with his flexibility and break up lingering scar tissue, and Brown, despite being 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds, decided to follow suit this season.
Then, when head coach Mike Shanahan asked Brown to stay in Northern Virginia during the offseason to work on his flexibility and conditioning, Brown obliged.
“When the boss man comes to talk to you, you know, and he sees something that you want to work at, you take that full force,” Brown said. “That’s why I was here the whole offseason, working at that, showing that you know, I take what he said serious.”
At no point did Brown think Shanahan’s recommendation was some sort of ultimatum. Likewise, Shanahan said the advice was merely given because he believes Brown played much too stiff and upright last season.
“He wasn’t moving like he did in previous years, and the hip never recovered, so I think by going to yoga, working on his flexibility, it really helped him get into stances, get into position that he hasn’t been before,” Shanahan said. “Hopefully that continues to improve. He’s going to keep working on it. He works on it an hour, hour and a half a day, and if you work on that flexibility that much, you get better and you can play. Hopefully he’s going to do that.”
Brown will face competition late next month when training camp begins. Reserve tackles Willie Smith and Tyler Polumbus, who replaced Brown in the lineup at the end of the season, each will return, and left guard Maurice Hurt has been seeing time at right tackle in camp. Tom Compton, a 6-foot-6, 314-pound tackle, was also drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round out of South Dakota.
Suffice to say, Brown is hoping putting his best foot forward will be the end of any of his injury problems.
“I just feel like they want guys here to stay healthy and to do well,” Brown said. “I just felt like I had to do that. I mean, every year your job is in jeopardy. There’s young guys that will come in and take your jobs. You know, you just try to get better.”