There was a painful, cold chill on the Redskins sideline last season. And it was not because of the losses that forced Washington to finish last in the NFC East with a 6-10 record.
The painful, cold chill was from star safety LaRon Landry, and the pain he felt was not from his broken wrist in which he sustained three torn ligaments, an injured shoulder or the torn Achilles.
The pain Landry felt was from his heart. It was the reality of not being able to help his teammates win that left a cold chill down his spine. Now, as the NFL continues its limbo of an offseason lockout, Landry is set for his return for the 2011 season as a healed, new man—or better yet, a better leader for the Burgundy and Gold.
“My mindset is totally different, now man,” Landry told me with excitement early Wednesday morning via phone. “This lockout added a lot of fuel to what I want to accomplish for this upcoming season. From being in the weight room to rehabbing, my whole mentality is different.
“I just want to go out this season as a leader and finish stronger,” he continued. “I’m just ready for it (the season), man. I will have a better season than last year’s.”
Every professional athlete plays for the money and there is nothing wrong with that because they all use it to fulfill many different reasons like to support their families, for material items or to have a great lifestyle, to name a few.
However, to play professionally for the competitiveness and the sheer love for the game is special nowadays. But there is a price to pay—a price Landry is paying and is willing to pay in order to perform on a high level to help his team to win through pain and sacrifice.
“As of right now, it's been a long process,” said Landry. “My body hasn’t had a break since August. When we played the Ravens, I hurt my AC (Acromioclavicular) joints (by suffering a separated shoulder) during that game. Torn three ligaments in my wrist in Week 2. My Achilles injury came along in Week 6 during practice for Indy.
“So, from August, I’ve been in rehab until now. I had shockwave treatments on my Achilles after surgery in January, had multiple PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections, eight times to be exact, where blood is drawn and the blood is spin into plasma for a quicker healing process. So with that being said, my shoulder has fully recovered, the wrist is coming along well and my Achilles is about 90 percent, so I’m okay, but I rather be playing than rehabbing every day.”
Landry went into detail about his Achilles’ injury and how it affects his performance.
“That’s the worst injury that I had thus far, even though I had surgery on my wrist after being dislocated with torn ligaments,” said Landry. “I feel I’m special because of my speed and what I can do and I have a high motor to run across the field and not get tired. With my Achilles injury, I did not have my wheels the way I needed them to be.
“Recovering from my Achilles injury was my main focus, which came quicker than my wrist injury,” he continued. “That’s why I didn’t focus on going to IR (injury/reserved), I just played. Those for nine weeks, my wrist was hurting, but the Achilles injury, it was a no-brainer, man. It was impossible for me to do what I wanted to do and I had the recover from what makes me special.”
The NFL lockout has taken its toll on teams and players around the league, but for Landry, the lockout has been a blessing in disguise as he was able to heal a little longer. Prior to the injuries, Landry was leading the NFL in tackles and finished with 85, an interception and a forced fumble while leading Pro Bowl voting at his position.
“Actually despite the fact of how badly I want to get out there and get this lockout resolved, you are right, this lockout is a blessing,” said the hard-hitting safety from Louisiana. “It allow me more time to heal and to be 200 percent in using this time to fine-tune my body.”
Landry is currently working out in a training facility in Arizona with a host of other NFL players. Free-agent running back Clinton Portis (who has a new trainer), Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (who is coming off a back injury), San Diego Charger wide receiver Craig Davis, Indianapolis Colts safety Antonio Bethea and several others are working out with Landry as they all are pushing and motivating each other through their training. Landry works out for 12 hours a day, four times a week and rests his muscles on his off-days.
The workouts and rehabbing is the non-glory side of a professional athlete.For Landry, the worst side for his profession is not being able to play with his teammates, as what happened down the stretch in 2010.
“It was a tough pill to swallow, certain games I didn’t want to watch and certain games I didn’t want to go to because I couldn’t contribute to me team,” said Landry with slight discomfort. “It was very difficult because I knew I could have helped my team to win, such a tough, tough pill to swallow.”
With the addition of safety O.J. Atogwe, Landry believes the defense can be as great as they want to be. Last season, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett implemented a 3-4 scheme and the team struggled mightily due to injuries, unfamiliarity and lack of young legs. Landry went into detail about what the team needs to be successful this season and what Atogwe brings to the table for the Redskins.
“We will be as great as we want to be, but it's all about how much work and effort we all put into playing together,” said Landry. “Everyone has their own way to contribute in their special way, but it comes down to communication and coming together knowing our roles. There are three major things needed for the 3-4 to be successful: a good nose tackle, a solid linebacker and a good safety, knowing their role.
“Having O.J. as the free safety, I can be free to play closer to the line,” he continued. “We are interchangeable. When Sean (Taylor) died, I had to move to free safety. In college, I was primarily a free safety. I’m very interchangeable, but my badge (comfort zone) in a scheme is to get involved because I’m a guy that can’t sit and let plays come to me. I have to go get it.”
Coming into last season was tough for Landry after having a disappointing year with rumors of him being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Landry had a major chip on his shoulder and this season, after rehabbing, will be no different.
“After being in a trade rumor to Philly with Al, I had a chip on my shoulder as I had to prove to fans and everybody, the media, that I’m a solid player and after this offseason of rehabbing and getting my mind right, the chip will continue to be there,” said Landry.
Although the Redskins secondary is set with rookie DeJon Gomes and the return of Chris Horton, the opportunity to play alongside his brother—free agent safety Dawan Landry from the Baltimore Ravens—would be greatly welcomed in Washington.
“I heard rumors of him (Dawan) coming to the Redskins and if so, I would be crazy and I would love it,” said Landry. “It’s not often to have brothers playing on the same team together on the same side of the ball.”
Whether or not this pairing with his brother happens, Landry is preparing to make this season his best ever. According to Landry, when he returns to Washington, he will be a stronger man and a better leader. This will be the season when the Redskins will make things happen.
“When this lockout is over and when I return to Washington, it will be time to go to work,” said Landry. “I ready to help make this team a winner.”