- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the Washington Redskins‘ ideal world, safeties LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe would patrol the secondary Sunday against the New York Giants in a marquee NFC East matchup that would propel them into the playoffs.

These are the Redskins, though. The playoffs remain fantasy. Their realities are losses, injuries and widespread disappointment.

That’s especially true at the safety position, where neither Landry nor Atogwe will start Sunday. Atogwe might come off the bench as he recovers from various leg injuries. Landry wishes he were so fortunate.

He will finish the last season of his contract on injured reserve because of the same left Achilles tendon injury that sidelined him in 2010. On Wednesday he visited renowned foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, who recommended postseason surgery to repair the ailing tendon.

“It’s not torn, but if he feels like it needs to have surgery on it, obviously something is seriously wrong,” said coach Mike Shanahan, who announced the move after Thursday’s practice.

The prognosis creates significant uncertainty about whether the Redskins will attempt to re-sign Landry this offseason. The sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. By season’s end, he will have missed 17 of Washington’s past 32 games.

“I think everybody will be taking a look at it — not just us — saying, ‘Hey, let’s look at the surgery. Let’s look at what Dr. Anderson says, how long the rehab will be. How long will he take to come back full speed?’ ” Shanahan said. “I think everybody will make decisions then.”

Shanahan did not say whether Landry has agreed to undergo the recommended surgery, and Landry declined to comment after Thursday’s practice.

He has missed 5 of 13 games this season because of three different injuries. A strained hamstring cost him the first two games. The Achilles flared up and kept him out of the Nov. 20 contest against Dallas, and a strained groin has sidelined him the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, toe, hamstring and knee injuries have cost Atogwe three games. That’s a major disappointment for a coaching staff that envisioned an imposing safety duo comprised of Landry and Atogwe after the team signed Atogwe to a five-year, $26-million free agent contract in March.

“I thought those two would be kind of like Ryan Clark and Troy [Polamalu] in Pittsburgh, and it hasn’t worked out that way, obviously,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “Some things don’t work out.

Landry, 27, missed the last seven games of 2010 because of the Achilles. He was diagnosed with microtears in the tendon and eschewed offseason surgery, opting instead to receive platelet-rich plasma therapy to try to heal it.

He began training camp in July on the physically unable to perform list and missed the entire preseason after straining his hamstring during conditioning drills.

Redskins coaches credited him with 56 tackles in eight games. He had 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and no interceptions.

Safeties coach Steve Jackson sensed Landry’s disappointment.

“The guy is an athletic freak, and he has to play at a certain level,” Jackson said. “He has to be running on all cylinders at all times, and when he’s not, it kind of messes with him a little bit.”

Rookie DeJon Gomes has replaced Landry as the starting strong safety, Haslett and Shanahan said.

“I like D.J., and I think he’s going to be a good football player,” Haslett said. “This gives him a chance to play five, six games and show us what he can do for the future. I think he’s a really instinctive football player.”

Veteran Reed Doughty replaced Atogwe in the starting lineup against New England last weekend. Doughty will start again against the Giants on Sunday, Shanahan said.

Atogwe isn’t sure what that means for his future with the organization. He has said he is fit enough to play.

“That’s something that’s going to be decided in the offseason,” he said. “Right now I’m really focused on being here for the team, supporting them the best way I can, and when my number is called being ready to play.”

It’s not ideal, but reality rarely is for this team.

“Those things, we adapt to and you get better,” Haslett said. “But that’s one area we’ve got to make sure that we get some stability in the future.”

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