Washington Reskins: 4 Injured Players Who Will Be Missed the Most

Rollin YeattsFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2012

Washington Reskins: 4 Injured Players Who Will Be Missed the Most

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    No matter how much we hate to see solid players go down, injuries come with being in the NFL. The Washington Redskins are certainly not the exception to the rule—half of the offensive line was gone by mid-season last year.

    That's bad news for a good quarterback, much less the sub-par ones who took snaps under center in 2011.

    The Redskins enter 2012 with the same dismay on the offensive line. Fortunately, most of them should be available for the season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

    The backfield has also been hobbled over the last few years and that trend seems to be unbroken. Alfred Morris took advantage of the injuries in his last preseason game, pounding his way to 107 yards on just 14 carries with the starters.

    Washington has three players on IR and one on the PUP list. Two of those players on IR were supposed to play an integral role in the Redskins' depth at their positions.

    As of now—knock on wood—there aren't any starters placed on the IR but there undoubtedly will be at least one by the end of the season.

    I also have a feeling there are two players already on their way to the injured reserve list—it's only a matter of time.

    We can only hope the person behind them produces at a level that will keep this team in contention.

Roy Helu, RB

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    This is just pure speculation, and I would hate to see it happen, but I have a feeling we will see Roy Helu on the IR before the end of the season. He may not have a tear in his Achilles, but he has tendinitis on both sides.

    Tendinitis rarely disappears and injuries to the Achilles are even worse. We are only a few months removed from LaRon Landry's troubles.

    The good news is Helu has been able to participate in practice of late and claims to be feeling much better.

    “I’ve had tight Achilles for some time, and then eventually, just going into camp and running every day, my left one just ended up hurting and then my right one is just more tight than anything,” Helu told The Free Lance-Star. “The left one’s getting better. Everything’s becoming more—not as tight. I’m not sure what the word is, but it’s got more bounce in it.”

    The bad news is everyone says they feel better.

    Again, this is only my opinion that he will end up on the IR, but it should be a concern nonetheless. And though the Redskins' backfield is starting to look fairly stout, his absence would not go unnoticed.

    Not only did he lead the Redskins' backfield in rushing yards with 640 in his rookie campaign, he also had 49 receptions for 379 yards. Only two receivers had more receptions.

    Helu was also the only player to account for more than 1,000 yards from the line of scrimmage other than Rex Grossman.

    Evan Royster came in late last season and produced 328 yards on the ground, with a 5.9-yard average—the best on the team—and seemed to be on his way to the starting role before being temporarily sidelined. I love the way he runs but nobody is as good a receiver out of the backfield as Roy Helu.

    Tristan Davis looks promising in that aspect but he may have to sit on the scout team with the Redskins' depth at the position.

    While I wouldn't consider the loss of Roy Helu to be a crushing blow, I would've liked to see what he could do in his second year with a better quarterback.

Jammal Brown, RT

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    Even more likely to appear on injured reserve—if he isn't cut from the team all together—is Jamaal Brown.

    Brown recently underwent surgery to repair a ligament in his troublesome hip. He is likely to miss at least four to six weeks, but injuries have become a trend with him since his Pro Bowl years with the Saints.

    In his final year with the Saints in 2009, Jammal Brown didn't see a snap after having surgeries to repair his hip and groin. Hoping he would make a full recovery, the Redskins acquired him for a third-round pick.

    His recovery wasn't without setbacks, however, as he endured a mild knee sprain and a concussion in 2010. He still played in 15 games and the Skins signed him to a five-year deal worth $27.5 million.

    Money "Snyderly" spent.

    In 2011, Brown only participated in 12 games, having more issues with his groin. These nagging injuries are tough for a 31-year-old to overcome, much less one that weighs 317 pounds.

    That's a lot of man to carry on a bruised and battered lower half.

    Mike Shanahan was on record with The Washington Post saying Brown's health will determine his future with the team. His only savior may be the lack of depth at the position.

    Tyler Polumbus will likely take his place at right tackle. The Colorado product has started all of 19 games for three teams during his five-year NFL career. That isn't to say he doesn't have potential in this zone-blocking scheme, but there have been few signs to this point.

    Second-year man out of Florida, Maurice Hurt, has a shot at the position, too. But allowing Jerrell Freeman an open path up the middle to light up Robert Griffin III didn't do anything to help his status.

    Though we have yet to see the Pro Bowl play of Jammal Brown, he is still the best option at right tackle. And whether he ends up on IR or not, I think we all know he will at least be in and out through the entire season.

Chris Neild, NT

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    As for the players actually on the injured reserve, we start with nose tackle Chris Neild.

    A true steal, Neild was the second-to-last pick of 2011 draft. Even as Barry Cofield's backup, his value was immediately evident as he picked up 1.5 sacks against the New York Giants in the first game of his rookie season.

    He was only able to manage another half-sack the rest of the season but the man played with the heart of a lion. Neild doesn't overwhelm his opponents with athleticism but he has an endless motor and is the gritty type of player you would want on your front lines.

    Sacks aren't what we look for in nose tackles anyway. It's all about penetration and taking up space—both of which he does well. After all, Cofield only had one more sack than him last season.

    Chris Baker will likely take his spot on the roster. The third-year player has played in two games with three teams over his NFL career. That isn't promising.

    Chris Neild may just be the backup to Cofield but he will certainly be missed. Jim Haslett likes to rotate his line and the backups still play a significant role on the team.

    Baker could surprise and become a solid replacement, but for now Neild is one of the players the Redskins will miss the most in 2012.

Chase Minnifield, CB

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    As a fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels, I have seen enough of Chase Minnifield on the other side of the ball. I was excited to have his coverage skills actually benefit my team when he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Redskins.

    Minnifield was undrafted due to microfracture knee surgery during his senior season at Virginia. Before the surgery, he was expected to be at least be a third-round pick.

    It wasn't long into training camp before he started showing how much of a steal he was, draping receivers with excellent coverage and picking off multiple passes.

    Minnifield played most of his collegiate career as a zone corner but was quickly adapting to becoming a solid cover corner. His naturally fluid hips and excellent recovery speed helped smooth out the transition.

    His speed wasn't quite where it used to be, though. Before the surgery, he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash; then he ran 4.7 seconds after. I'm sure his time would have been better this summer but I still doubt he was up to his former speed.

    That makes his practice performances even more impressive.

    Like Allen Iverson, some may say "it's just practice," but I have seen enough of this kid in the past to know what he is capable of.

    In his best statistical season with the Cavaliers, Chase Minnifield finished 2010 with 48 tackles and six interceptions. In a shortened 2011 season, he had 50 tackles and only three interceptions, but one of those was taken to the house for six.

    He was also a punt returner in college, which always serves well on interception returns. Just ask DeAngelo Hall.

    Richard Crawford is having an impressive preseason and looks to be taking Minnifield's place as the third cornerback on the roster. The SMU product had his best season in 2010, snatching up four interceptions.

    If Crawford keeps this up, Minnifield could be temporarily forgotten. I still feel he is a better corner than Crawford, though. And nobody will tell you the Redskins don't need more talent in the secondary.