There was a painful, cold chill on the Washington Redskins’ sideline last season. But it was not because of the losses that caused the team to finish last in the NFC East with a 6-10 record. The painful, cold chill came from star safety LaRon Landry. The pain he felt was not from the three torn ligaments in his wrist, his injured shoulder and or his torn Achilles. The pain Landry felt was in his heart and was caused by the realization that he would not be able to help his teammates win. It sent a cold chill down his spine.
Now, as the NFL continues an offseason in limbo due to the lockout, Landry is set to return in 2011 as a healed, new man and even more than that; a better leader for the Burgundy and Gold.
“My mindset is totally different, now man,” said Landry with excitement early Wednesday morning via telephone. “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, man. I will have a better season than last year’s.”
All NFL players play the sport for the money, making it the primary reason why individuals have chosen that profession. In fact, every professional athlete does and there is nothing wrong with it. They all use the money for different things like supporting their families, material items, and to provide a great lifestyle.
To play professionally for the competitiveness and the sheer love of the game is special these days but there is a price to pay… a price Landry is willing to pay – through pain and sacrifice – in order to perform on a high level to help his team to win.
“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 – a separated shoulder) during that game. [I] tore 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’d rather be playing than rehabbing every day.”
Landry went into detail about his Achilles’ injury and how it affects his performance.
“That’s the worse injury that I’ve had thus far, even though I had surgery on my wrist after being dislocated with torn ligaments,” he said. “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,” the safety continued. “That’s why I didn’t focus on going [on] to IR (injured/reserved), I just played. For those 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 to 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 has been able to heal a little longer. Prior to his injuries, Landry was leading the NFL in tackles, finishing with 85. He had an interception, a forced fumble and a Pro Bowl season in his sights.
“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 player from Louisiana. “It allowed 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 and 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 are the non-glory side of a professional athlete, but for Landry, the worst side for his profession is not being able to play with his teammates. Last season was a tough pill to swallow.
“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 my team,” said Landry with slight discomfort. “It was very difficult because I knew I could have helped my team to win. [It was] such a tough, tough pill to swallow.”
With the Redskins’ 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 the 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. 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 roles.
“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 predominantly 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 and 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 that after this offseason of rehabbing and getting my mind right, the chip will continue to be there,” Landry explained.
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 you have brothers playing on the same team together on the same side of the ball.”
Whether or not a 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 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’m ready to help make this team a winner.”