It didn't take long for the first major injury of 2019, as new Washington linebacker Reuben Foster went down with a noncontact knee injury on Monday, reported to be a torn ACL and possibly more.
Three plays. That’s all it took.
The Redskins led the league the last couple seasons with players on injured reserve. Now they fear that three plays into the first OTA (Organized Team Activity), that they have suffered their first of the upcoming season.
Foster had to be carted off the field and was in visible pain, pounding the field with his fist as team President Bruce Allen, head coach Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky were among those huddled around Foster.
“I don’t know how to process it really,” Gruden said. “We’ve had some bad luck over here for the last couple years. This one here takes the cake because this was a noncontact drill and there was really no contact involved in it. He just landed funny. But, we have to move on.”
Gruden was almost at a loss for words when talking about all the injuries this team has suffered the last couple seasons. Last year, they lost rookie running back Derrius Guice on the first drive of the first preseason game with a torn ACL. Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy ended the year on IR as did tight end Jordan Reed, wide receiver Paul Richardson, and guard Brandon Scherff.
“We can’t stop practice and not practice because of these injuries,” Gruden said. “We still have to practice, evaluate our players and work on our crafts. In order to do that, we have to do some of these drills. I wish I had the answer for you. You know, sometimes I wish we’d just do all walk-throughs and then go play on Sundays. But, we’ve got to practice.”
The Redskins took a lot of heat for claiming Foster after he was released by San Francisco, but Allen and the team felt it was worth it based on what they had learned about the facts of the case and what he could bring on the field.
The team had planned to start Foster at inside linebacker. They could go back to Mason Foster, who had been a starter. Foster’s former Alabama teammate Shaun Dion Hamilton has a good chance to take one of those linebacker spots this year as well.
Monday was the first time coaches got a chance to see quarterbacks Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins on the field together as they begin their competition to be the starter. Keenum got the first rep in drills followed by Haskins.
“It’s normal,” Keenum said of the competition. “I compete every day, whether I’m playing football, playing Ping-Pong, playing golf, I’m competing. I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against the defense. In the quarterback room, we’re always competing — throwing nets, trying to see who gets the most nets. Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about.”
Both quarterbacks should push each other and Keenum is also there to help Haskins learn the game and the league. There is also plenty of help in that category for Haskins as the quarterback room is loaded with experience.
“It’s great,” said Haskins. “At Ohio State we knew what was going on and to be able to have those guys (Keenum, McCoy, Alex Smith) in the room being able to pick their brain is great. I’ll make sure I use that.”
Haskins said he felt a lot more comfortable coming into OTA’s then he did during mini camp and is already learning from Keenum.
“It felt great,” said Haskins. “Football is football, so I was able to go out there and throw some good passes today, learn from Case (Keenum), and have a great day.”
Haskins said he didn’t set expectations for himself for Day One.
“I didn’t have any expectations for today,” he said. “I just wanted to execute. The biggest thing for me was calling the play right in the huddle.”
Events like Monday’s are called voluntary workouts for a reason — players aren’t required to show up. Several players took advantage of that.
Adrian Peterson, Josh Norman, Vernon Davis, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams and Daron Payne were among those not present.
McCoy and Smith were not there either, as they recover from injuries.
Safety Landon Collins, cornerback Quinton Dunbar, running back Derrius Guice and wide receiver Paul Richardson were all in attendance, but not practicing as they recover from injuries as well.
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