As Redskins Start OTA’s Questions Surround Players Recovering from Injury
- Updated: May 21, 2012
Congratulations Redskins Nation, you survived the first slow week in Redskins news since the team traded for the second pick in last month’s draft. Not to worry though! Things are about to heat up again as the guys start to get their work in today for the first round of 2012 OTA’s.
Mike Shanahan said he has been pleased with the great turnout so far for the offseason conditioning program, so this week should be well attended. The question is: what is it that we can expect? And what should we be looking for when things kick off today?
One of the biggest questions that begs to be answered is the health of 3 key players coming off injuries.
Tim Hightower, Leonard Hankerson and Korey Lichtensteiger are all projected to be huge pieces for this team in 2012. They are all also coming off significant injuries that cut their 2011 seasons short.
Leonard Hankerson looks to be the most intriguing piece of this revamped Redskins offense (outside of RG3 of course). Unfortunately, Hankerson’s rookie offseason was as useful for him as playing Madden due to the lockout.
Though the players rallied and held player-lead workouts, Hankerson did not have the benefit of a full slate of OTA’s. By midseason, Hankerson had worked his way into the starting lineup (a process accelerated by injuries at WR), and then his season was over almost as quickly as it started.
You have to wonder how much more beneficial this year’s OTA’s will be while Hankerson rehabs the hip injury that derailed his rookie campaign.
I love the potential I see out of Hank, and I am certain that IF he is healthy, he will be a starter once September gets here. But frankly, I am just terrified of another young WR with all the talent in the world rendered useless by injuries. Perhaps watching Malcolm Kelly play Tour De France on the stationary bike during the past few years has something to do with that fear, but the point is, Hankerson’s recovery is critical to this offense having the firepower Mike and Kyle have been envisioning.
Kory Lichtensteiger’s recovery is also high priority. You can throw out whatever you want in regards to scheme, weapons at skill positions, and even superstar quarterbacks. In the NFC East, the division is won in the trenches.
The Redskins were absolutely decimated on the OL last year due to wounds both suffered on the field as well self inflicted wounds off the field (looking at you, Trent Marley). But the truth is, during the final stretch the unit played pretty well. With Trent back from the vacation that Roger Goodell so generously insisted he take, the solid play of Chris Chester, and the fact that Jamal Brown finally looks healthy, the questions on the OL now shift to guard and center.
Will Montgomery played pretty well last year in both spots, so you have to figure–depending on the health of KL and how NFL ready 3rd rounder Josh LeRibeus is–that the Redskins will have an improved front five to protect their shiny new draft pick. For the first time in years, the Redskins also have some depth on the OL as well as versatility with Monty and LeRibeus able to swing between guard and center. So, Kory’s injury isn’t going to kill the line per se.
Fact is, this offseason and the recovery are crucial for Kory. In a “what have you done for me lately” league, it is pretty easy to go from big man on campus to “oh what’s his name”. Finding the correct balance between risking an injury (from rushing back too soon) while still remaining relevant is going to be what determines Lichtensteiger’s role in 2012.
Remember last August when Tim Hightower looked like he was prepping for a 2,000 yard 2011 season? I promise you Tim remembers, and I would bet my paycheck that memory stayed with him every day of his rehab.
Like Lichtensteiger, Hightower’s injury has taken him from clear cut starter to a question mark in a crowded backfield. Clearly, Mike and Kyle believe that Hightower can be a productive back in this system, or they would not have brought him back. Whether he actually can be effective or not is an entirely different situation.
Hightower had pretty much the most devastating injury you can have as a RB. The thing that scares me is the fact that he was not injured on a hit. He cut (which is pretty much what the Redskins pay him to do) and his ACL gave out. This is an injury that Hightower is going to have to be very careful to not rush back and re-injure. At 26, he still has a chance for a successful career. But torn ACL’s are tough to come back from no matter how old you are.