After missing the Redskins' Week 5 game against the Falcons, Chris Culliver was back at practice on Wednesday. The next step will be getting healthy enough to play in games again.
It could have been a game that proved just how valuable of a player he can be.
Instead of squaring off with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, easily one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Washington Redskins cornerback Chris Culliver had to watch from afar last Sunday as his teammates hung in against one of the league's remaining unbeaten teams.
He's been dealing with a knee injury that didn't allow him to practice all last week. It was also hard for him to just walk at times.
"It was definitely difficult," Culliver said. "Like I said, just being out there with the boys, my fellas, and going out there competing. It's tough just watching, but all I can do is help them out in any way I can. If I see something I let them know, like if I see a signal or anything like that. So I was there with them and trying to help anyway as possible, just trying to do what I do."
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that Culliver underwent an MRI during last week, showing no structural damage.
"He had surgery on that knee before and he's just got some cartilage issues," Gruden said. "It's just a little sore which is making his quad a little bit weaker and everything like that. His leg, in general, hasn't felt right in a little bit of time. We think it's important for him to really rehab it, try to get the strength back so he feels good when he goes out there."
In his absence, the Redskins relied on Bashaud Breeland, who once again showed that his physical play can lead to some tremendous performances, as he limited Jones to just five receptions and hauled in his first interception of the young campaign.
"I think the defense played real well," Culliver said. "DB's played good, safeties, linebackers, D-Line. Everybody played well and we played together as a team and together as one. Unfortunately we didn't come out with a win."
The South Carolina product returned to practice Wednesday in a limited capacity, but did participate in individual drills.
As Culliver eases his way back onto the field, the Redskins are providing him a "game plan."
"It's just a hurdle that you have to try to get over," Culliver said. "I feel good, so just taking it easy and ramping it up."
Gruden said that in order for injured players to re-appear in game, they must be healthy. At the cornerback position, one that can require sideline-to-sideline coverage throughout a game, having healthy knees is extremely important.
"It depends on the injury, depends on the position," Gruden said of returning players. "Quarterbacks can't play with a busted up arm. It's just the way football is."