- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2019

ASHBURN — Reuben Foster pounded the ground with his fist, crying out in agony as he remained on the field while trainers attended to his leg. The Redskins’ middle linebacker was carted off Monday with a leg injury, just minutes into the team drills portion of Washington’s offseason workouts.

Foster and the Redskins got the full extent of the bad news later in the day: Torn ACL. Out for the season.

Foster suffered the injury on his first play of the morning, coach Jay Gruden said.

“I don’t know how to process it really,” Gruden said. “We’ve had some bad luck over here the last couple of years, but 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.”

Until Monday, Foster had not been allowed to practice with the Redskins since the team claimed him off waivers in November. The 25-year-old was on the NFL Commissioner Exempt list while the league investigated a domestic violence arrest. But after charges were dismissed in January, the NFL announced last month it would not suspend Foster.

With his legal troubles behind him, the Redskins were looking forward to the linebacker’s impact on the field. Drafted late in the first round in 2017, Foster had a stellar rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers — finishing with 72 tackles in 10 games. The Redskins were criticized for picking up Foster just days after his arrest, but the team brass felt Foster’s talent was worth the backlash.

Foster went down Monday when he stepped on guard Tyler Catalina’s foot and fell awkwardly. He writhed in pain while coaches and team president Bruce Allen huddled around. Trainers stabilized the injured leg in a cast before he was carted off.

Foster will now see a specialist to determine the full extent of his injury, per the NFL Network. 

The latest season-ending injury served as a reminder of the difficulties the Redskins have had with staying healthy over the past few seasons. In 2018, the Redskins finished with 24 players on injured reserve — a year after they finished with 23 in 2017. In both years, Washington was among the league’s most injury-plagued teams.

Owner Dan Snyder even brought in outside consultants to advise the team.

Were the injuries just bad luck? Or something more?

“Everybody analyzes their injuries around the league and there’s different outfits that will tell you if there’s any trend or relation between different injuries,” Allen said in March. “It doesn’t show that for us.”

Some have wondered if the Redskins’ track record of picking up — and depending on — injury-prone players is to blame. This year, for instance, the franchise drafted running back Bryce Love, who is coming off an ACL tear, and defensive end Montez Sweat, who was taken off some draft boards for a heart condition. The Redskins, of course, gave passing medical grades to each prospect and see them both as dependable players in the future.

Foster, too, has a lengthy injury history. He had shoulder surgery in February 2017 and later missed fives games his rookie year with a high-ankle sprain.

“We can’t assume they are going to get hurt, if that’s what you’re asking me,” Gruden said in March. “We have to go in there and prepare like they are going to be there 16 weeks and utilize their abilities the best way we can.”

Foster’s off-the-field troubles were also concerning. He was suspended two games to start the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s conduct policy. After his second domestic violence arrest of 2018, the San Francisco 49ers released him.

The Redskins, however, believe they have the infrastructure to keep Foster out of trouble. They’ve surrounded him with a number of his former Alabama teammates and the linebacker is supposed to follow strict guidelines set by the team.

Without Foster, the Redskins’ linebacking core takes a significant hit. Veteran Mason Foster and 2018 sixth-rounder Shaun Dion Hamilton are two possible starters, fifth-round rookie Cole Holcomb may be pressed into duty.

“It’s part of football,” Mason Foster said. “You just have to keep moving forward.”

Gruden said he wished he had an answer for why the Redskins have been so affected by injuries. 

“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. … You know, sometimes I wish we’d just do all walkthroughs and then go play on Sundays. 

“But, we’ve got to practice.”


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