Though much of the talk and discussion surrounds the recovery and prognosis of star Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, their are a number of other key players recovering from injuries for the Redskins that bear watching as well. In addition to Griffin the following players are below full participation currently (this doesn’t include guys like OLB Brian Orakpo who are coming back from an injury, but are already a full go):
The most concerning thing is of course that seven of the projected 22 starters are recovering from serious injuries (including RGIII) heading into the season. Though some of those players will recover 100% and not suffer any sort of setback or have their performance impacted by the injury, others will most assuredly be impacted by these injuries. A couple of the players will likely miss some time, and a couple others will likely see a drop off in what they are able to accomplish on the football field.
Projection: By all accounts RGIII is ahead of schedule and has a real shot of being ready for the start of the season. Though Griffin makes it sound like it’s a foregone conclusion, others including Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are far more cautious in speaking of his timetable to return. Even if Griffin isn’t healthy enough for week one, he should be ready fairly soon after (Game 5 at the latest).
Possible Limitations: Though Griffin has made a remarkable recovery so far, the big question that is unknown is how will his speed and agility be for this coming season. It’s likely that he will need to wear a knee brace which in and of itself will slow him down a little bit. Griffin should be able to return to form as a passer, but if the rushing ability is limited, it does impact the Redskins offense. Not only can it change the effectiveness of the read option, but it will limit his scrambling ability which saved a number of sacks last season.
Projection: Mike Shanahan has said that Garcon is about at 90% currently which is a really good sign. He will be held out till the start of training camp, but should be 100% by then. It appears likely that he should be good to go for the season though as seen last year that toe injury can flare up at any time.
Possible Limitations: Last year Garcon’s toe injury significantly limited his explosion and quickness when he tried to come back from it too soon. If it flares up and becomes a nagging issue it could definitely limit his effectiveness. Another area where it could have an impact is on how much he’s playing. Typically top WR’s will play about 95% of the snaps, but Garcon was playing anywhere from 60-88% (for the most part it rose through the seven game winning streak). Given the Redskins depth this isn’t as big of a concern, but is worth watching.
Projection: Shanahan also mentioned Fred Davis as around 90% and similar to Garcon, he’ll be held out till the start of training camp. Though he sounds to be on the same track as Garcon, the confidence level shouldn’t be as high. Achilles injuries are notorious causing setbacks.The start of the season is very possible, but until it is fully tested with Davis going 100% it is tough to know.
Possible Limitations: Achilles injuries are perhaps the toughest to overcome, particularly for skill position players because they typically significantly impact a players speed and explosion for at least the following year after returning from the injury. Given that Davis suffered the injury about 40% into the season, it is likely that he will not have the same abilities that he had prior to the injury. Given that as it is he’d be recovering on the early side of the time table, Davis will likely need to play limited snaps at least early in the season.
Projection: Though Fletcher was not able to fully participate in OTA’s, he should be on track for the start of camp and the season. Given his track record it is clear that he’d have to be significantly injured for Fletcher to miss any time.
Possible Limitations: Fletcher played through injuries last season and saw his production significantly fall off. Fletcher still led the team in tackles and INT’s, but he also let far too many catches happen in coverage while missing as many tackles than he had in the previous two seasons combined. Being 38 Fletcher may not be able to fully bounce back from these injuries and further see his play decline. This could lead to Fletcher being more of a two down player.
Projection: Wilson’s injuries were a surprise when they were revealed at OTA’s, because he played through them all last year and it hadn’t come out that he had major surgeries. He was even more limited in OTA’s than some of the other players (not shocking since his surgeries were in the offseason and many of the other recovering players had their procedures done months earlier), and though it sounds like they are optimistic he’ll be ready for camp, he’s more of a question mark. Also, recovering from two injuries there is twice the chance of course for a set back.
Possible Limitations: If the surgeries went well and he doesn’t have any setbacks Wilson shouldn’t be limited in any way, or have any expectation of his production level decreasing.
Projection: Shanahan believes that Meriweather will be ready for training camp, but despite injuring his ACL about two months prior to Robert Griffin, the overall optimism isn’t there. Given how long it was taking for his other knee to recover from a sprain earlier in the year last season, perhaps there is some more reason for concern. Despite it being a less invasive procedure than RGIII’s, Meriweather might be more likely to miss the start of the season. Like with most of these knee injuries it will be unclear until it is fully tested out in camp.
Possible Limitations: Meriweather has never been a great cover guy, he relies on his speed and hitting ability to make plays. If he loses a little speed/acceleration it could have a significant impact on his level of play. Also, due to the injury Meriweather may not be able to play the full 65-70 defensive snaps a game that would be expected of him for at least the first month or two.
Projection: Despite the fact that Carriker suffered the injury in Week two last year, his projection is the shakiest for the coming season. He wasn’t even doing side work at OTA’s and Mike Shanahan has previously said that Carriker suffered a setback. Mike Shanahan made a statement that they currently project one player to not be healthy enough to start training camp. While he didn’t give a specific name, the fact that he confirmed the health of a number of other injured players, makes it likely that Carriker is the one who is in question. Given that back-drop it is very possible that Carriker isn’t ready for the start of the season and could miss significant time if the team feels the roster to crunch to put him on the PUP list to start the season.
Possible Limitations: Even if Carriker gets healthy during camp and they put him on the active roster to start the season, it is likely that he’d be more limited. While he’s a veteran, missing OTA’s, Mini-camp and any part of training camp, would put him behind the curve somewhat. At the very least in not playing or practicing at a full pace for nearly a full year, would mean that his endurance is likely well below average. Regardless of when he comes back, Carriker is likely to be a part-time player for a little while.