Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden recently provided some updates on when players may return to the field following significant injuries suffered last season.
One of the many remarkable aspects of the Washington Redskins' worst-to-first turnaround in the NFC East during the 2015 season was how they did so with many injuries and newcomers.
It started in training camp and the preseason when Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen, Silas Redd Jr., Junior Galette and Adam Hayward all suffered season-ending injuries.
Then during the season, others like Chris Culliver, Shawn Lauvao and Martrell Spaight were lost for the year while DeSean Jackson, Kory Lichtensteiger and Perry Riley Jr. spent significant time on the sidelines dealing with lengthy injury recovery times.
Last week at the NFL Owners Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., Redskins head coach Jay Gruden provided some updates on the players recovering from injury (though he cautioned his projections for players' returns were only best guesses this early into the offseason):
Thrilled may be an understatement as to how Gruden feels about Galette returning to the Redskins on a one-year deal after the linebacker suffered a torn Achilles in August.
Paired with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, Galette provides the Redskins a trio of talented pass rushers that could do some serious damage.
Galette, of course, was a double-digit sack guy during his last two seasons with the Saints, and as anyone who saw him last training camp would agree, he is incredibly explosive and passionate about the game.
"He's working his butt off to get healthy," Gruden said. "And he's going to be a huge, huge help to us on third down next year."
Gruden added that "it'd be nice" to have Galette back by OTAs, but he must be at full health for that to be possible.
"He's had a lot of time and I've seen him run from time to time in the locker room, but I expect him to be close," Gruden said. "But I imagine there's a good chance we'll keep with the trainers and we'll hold him out either until mandatory or training camp."
Paul suffered a season-ending broken ankle in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. It was a tough blow for both the player and team, as Paul was pegged as the Redskins' No. 1 tight end due to the fact he was the most "complete" player at the position.
While Paul is at Redskins Park daily aggressively putting in work to get back to the field healthy, Gruden said he'll likely be held out until training camp.
"He's another one who will be out probably until training camp I would think, but it's just a matter of him getting his strength back in his leg and obviously getting his weight back up to where it was," Gruden said. "He was close to 255-60 pounds I think before he got hurt and he was strong as an ox and we've just got to make sure he gets back to that strength level and see where he is. But it was a big loss for us when we lost him, not just for the tight end spot, but for special teams and Niles is so versatile."
Gruden added that Paul might occasionally play some fullback, too.
On a routine practice play on Thanksgiving Day, Culliver suffered a torn ACL and MCL.
While Culliver had moments of both success and some struggles during his first season with the Redskins, he was a starting cornerback on the defense and played quite a large role, too.
Culliver said during exit interviews that he's hopeful to be ready for the first week of the season, and Gruden believes that could happen.
"It really is just dependent on me, depending on my body, what I'm out there doing," Culliver said. "And you know, like I said, beginning of the season you'll see me."
On Dec. 11, Paea was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with a toe injury.
The six-year veteran totaled 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 11 games during the season, his first with the Redskins.
While Paea only started one game – Week 2 against the Rams – he was a key rotational player on the defensive line.
Gruden believes Paea could be ready to go by OTAs.
"I think he's coming along very nicely," Gruden said. "I see him in the weight room from time to time and he's doing good."
Shawn LauvaoLauvao was lost for the season after suffering an ankle injury in the Redskins' Week 3 loss to the Giants.
After struggling some during the 2014 season, Lauvao was considered by many to be a key component to the Redskins' strong start on the ground in the first two weeks in 2015.
Not only has Lauvao had to deal with recovering from the injury, he's had five surgeries, some more major than others, since going down Week 3.
"Just very humbling, man," Lauvao said in January of his rehab process. "Just taking a step back and just kind of evaluating some things. Otherwise, like I said, you have appreciation for the game, just for your coaches and your peers. Just the kind of effort and time it takes just to play this game."
Gruden said Lauvao will probably be ready for "mandatory minicamp or training camp, more likely training camp."
Spaight, a fifth-round draft pick in 2015, was expected to help the Redskins on special teams as a rookie, but just nine plays into his professional debut, the Arkansas product suffered a serious concussion that resulted in a placement on Injured Reserve.
With significant time needed to recover, Gruden believes Spaight will be full-go once football activities resume next month.
"I think after about third or fourth week I think he was probably showing a lot of progress," Gruden said. "We were just careful with that. He was having trouble in meeting rooms so we want to put him down and make sure he was 100 percent ready and right and I think he is now."
Hayward, a special teams captain for the Redskins, suffered a torn ACL on a second-half kickoff against the Lions in a preseason game.
Not only was it Hayward's second straight season-ending injury, but it took away veteran leadership from a unit formed mostly by younger players.
Gruden didn't give a specific timetable for Hayward's return, but did confirm the 31-year-old will have quite a bit of competition to make the roster this year.
"He's another one — one of those veteran guys that we brought in for leadership special teams that did an excellent job for us," Gruden said. "We'll have to wait and see his recovery. It's a crowded room right now, if we add him to the mix and his ability to be a special teams stud for us it'd be helpful."
Jarret exited the Redskins' Jan. 3 victory over the Cowboys with a shoulder injury that has also impacted his nerves in the area.
Gruden said he's "very concerned" about Jarrett's health.
"It's a tough injury for him," Gruden said. "He's one of those kids you want to have around also. So we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully continue to see the doctor and nerve specialist, things will change, but right now we're a little concerned."
Gruden added that the nerve is "not firing to give him strength," though Jarrett said recently he hopes to be back by training camp.
"It's going to take some time," Gruden said. "I don't know how long that's going to be yet. Something we can't predict really, just going to continue to rehab and hopefully it fires, we'll send him to some specialists and hopefully get him out there soon. He'll do everything he can to get ready I know that. The kid loves, loves, loves football and wants to get out there fast."