There was not much Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden could say after the first day of Organized Team Activities (OTA) on May 20.
On the third snap of the voluntary spring practice, inside linebacker Reuben Foster tore his anterior cruciate ligament, after stepping on offensive lineman Tyler Catalina’s foot during a non-contact drill.
Shortly after Foster was carried off, no one yet knew the extent of Foster’s injury at that point.
Shortly after practice ended, doctors confirmed that Foster has torn his ACL, likely ending his season before it even began. After two straight years of the Redskins being among the most injured teams in the NFL, Gruden’s dejection was evident. Yet another injury, to another key player.
“I don’t know how to process it, really,” Gruden said at a press conference. “We’ve had some bad luck over here for the last couple (of) years, but this one here takes the cake because this was a non-contact drill and there was really no contact involved in it. He just landed funny.”
Foster’s injury is the first blow to the positive offseason the Redskins have been building. After two straight injury-plagued 7-9 seasons and dwindling fan attendance and television ratings, the Redskins have been working to change the narrative around their team this offseason.
For the Redskins brass, Foster was a long-term investment. When the team claimed him off waivers in November, it took a massive public relations blow. Foster was promptly cut from the San Francisco 49ers after police arrested him on domestic violence charges.
While Redskins officials took the public relations backlash, they felt that the investment in Foster would eventually pay off. In January, it appeared that was the case as the state’s attorney in Florida dropped the charges against Foster.
Now, instead of easily acquiring their next starting inside linebacker for the cost of some bad PR, Foster will be sitting out the season with a debilitating injury.
“Oh man, you know it’s just tough, man,” said Redskins linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton. “I mean, all the adversity he’s faced and he comes out here and something like that happens, but you know, it’s football.”
OTAs are supposed to be a time of optimism for teams. May 20 was the first time newly acquired quarterback Case Keenum got to practice. It was another opportunity for first-round picks Dwayne Haskins and Montez Sweat to shine. But instead of talking about Washington’s potential for the 2019 season coming out of the first day of OTAs, Washington’s recent past with injuries was the key talking point.
Last season, Washington had seven players on the injured reserve with season-ending before the first game. Three others had their year cut short and played three games or less. These injuries occurred despite the Redskins employing a training staff that was awarded the Ed Block Training Staff Of The Year Award in February.
However, not everyone on the Redskins held their heads down low. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remained positive after Foster’s injury. While at the time, no one yet knew Foster had torn his ACL, Allen rejected the idea that Washington was “snakebitten” by injuries.
“Every team deals with injuries; we just have to deal with them the best we can and move on,” he said.