Redskins lineman Adam Carriker on return: "It’s not if, it’s a matter of when.”

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Washington Redskins defensive end Adam Carriker has grown accustomed to the rehabilitation process.

Since rupturing the quadriceps tendon in his right leg last September, Carriker, 29, has undergone three separate surgeries. The latest on July 24 appeared to put his 2013 season in jeopardy. Carriker is on the team’s physically unable to perform list and can’t return until Week 7. The original prognosis was four-to-five months. But he says don’t write him yet. He’ll be back. 

That’s not to say the days are always smooth. Carriker arrives at Redskins Park around 8:30 a.m. and works with team trainer Larry Hess. That lasts for two hours. When Carriker returns home he puts his leg in a Continuous Passive Motion device. That slowly helps increase the range of motion of the injured body part.

Is that it? Far from it. Then Carriker meets with a physical therapist at a nearby independent rehab facility. While his teammates were sweating through training camp in Richmond, Carriker spent his time there working on his range of motion and strength. After a few hours of free time, it’s back to the CPM device at night. His recovery is a full-time job. And not every day is encouraging. Wednesday was one of the bad ones, Carriker said.

“There here have been times when I cried like a little girl,” Carriker said. “There have been times when I’ve taken my Louisville Slugger and we’ve had to replace a few items in my house.”

Carriker laughed later and said only non-essential items have faced the bat. But it shows the up-and-down nature of rehab from an injury that not many doctors have experience treating. In a way, Carriker is a guinea pig. He begins his day with an assessment of how he feels and then he and Hess craft their work day around that.

It’s challenging enough that Carriker’s sister, a physical therapist, suggested he move on from the game. Why go through all of this with no guarantee of a return or certainty that the injury won’t recur?

“I think what they don’t realize and understand is that [sports] is all I’ve ever known,” Carriker said. “This is all I’ve ever done. My first memories are T-ball and trying to have the most home runs in the league.”

Carriker’s second surgery in January was described by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan as a setback. Carriker, for his part, doesn’t want to rehash what happened there. The surgery in July was to allow his muscle to push through a range-of-motion sticking point that rehab wasn’t helping. He can get the muscle ready after 25-to-30 minutes of work. But until Carriker can jump out of bed “at 2 a.m.” and have the muscle fire at an optimal level, he isn’t ready to return.

Doctors need Carriker to get to 120 degrees in his range of motion. That’s good enough, but he isn’t close to that yet. A normal knee goes to 130. Carriker’s left knee can go to 140, which surprised him. Despite the unique nature of his injury, Carriker says his confidence comes from always beating timetables from previous surgeries.

“It’s another thing that I thrive on,” Carriker said. “Three surgeries – when I come back, how awesome will that be? To me, that’s what drives me. I want to overcome it. It’s not going to stop me.”

 

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