- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2005

It feels like walking on broken glass, its sufferers say.

Only Joe Salave’a has not just been walking, he’s been running, pushing and tackling, too.

The Washington Redskins defensive tackle first felt the painful effects of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that supports the arch of the foot, in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 16.

“It was a good thing it happened towards the end of the game because I barely made it out to the bus,” Salave’a said. “I thought maybe my season was over, but I tried to be optimistic. Our line of work is all about hands and feet so it’s kind of hard to take time off to heal.”

Salave’a has missed eight of 11 practices since he was injured, but on Sunday he is right there where he always is: on the field, in the starting lineup.

“I guess I don’t know better,” Salave’a said. “Everything is up to my tolerance of the situation at this point. The MRIs come up negative. After the season, we’ll talk about it and see what my options are.”

Part of the reason Salave’a plays on is that the Redskins have few options.

Salave’a admitted he endures because of the absence of tackles Brandon Noble, who was placed on injured reserve following knee surgery; Cornelius Griffin, who has been sidelined with a hip flexor since the opening series of the Oct. 30 loss at Giants Stadium; and Cedric Killings, who has not played since he sprained an ankle against the Chiefs.

The Redskins now start Demetric Evans, usually a backup defensive end, in Griffin’s place. The team has only Ryan Boschetti, an undrafted rookie in 2004, and Aki Jones, an undrafted rookie this year, in reserve.

“Joe’s a warrior,” defensive line coach Greg Blache said. “A lot of guys would be home in bed, but Joe’s out there competing. That’s mental toughness. My statement to guys is always, ‘Don’t come out and hurt the team. I don’t need John Wayne. If you can help us win, help us win. If you’re going be less than the next guy, don’t go out there.”

Salave’a wasn’t less than the next guy on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He made six tackles and forced the first fumble of his seven-year career, a turnover at the Tampa Bay 6-yard line that set up a Redskins touchdown.

“I just tried to make plays,” Salave’a said. “I was in the right place at the right time on the fumble. I had to get taped a couple of times during the game and at halftime. A couple of times I had to switch my stance to ease the pain a little bit.”

Bubba Tyer, the team’s director of sports medicine, has a pantheon of locker nameplates of former Redskins whose toughness he especially admired.

Tyer said Salave’a belongs in that group for playing with plantar fasciitis, an injury that kept legendary tough guy Russ Grimm out a few weeks back in the day. And Salave’a hasn’t needed a numbing cortisone injection in a couple of weeks.

“I’m not trying to turn heads by being a tough guy,” Salave’a said. “I’m just trying to help the team. Hopefully, I’m doing the right thing. When my foot gets inflamed, it’s just a matter of reinforcing the tape and trying to get some sort of comfort level.

“I feel good just standing and talking to you, but pushing off and making contact, that’s when the excruciating pain happens.”

His teammates have noticed.

“Somehow, some way Joe finds a way to get out there by Sunday,” end Renaldo Wynn said. “And he’s effective. Joe wants to be accountable. He doesn’t want to let his teammates down. But I told him, ‘Joe, you don’t have to prove anything. If you don’t take another snap, I know what type person of you are and what you bring to the table.’ ”

Salave’a doesn’t bring much to the table these days when he gets home at night.

“My wife knows this is something I love to do, so she’s biting her tongue about it,” Salave’a said. “I come in the door and try to stay in one place and put my foot in a little boot that I’m too stubborn to wear around here. It’s a good thing that my daughter is only 10 months. I don’t have to chase her around.”

Opposing ball carriers aren’t so fortunate.

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