Taylor Balked at Emergency Surgery

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 25, 2008

There was no time to waste, though Washington Redskins Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor preferred to take things slowly early Monday morning at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.

Doctors strongly recommended Taylor, who seriously injured his left calf in last Sunday's 24-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, have emergency surgery, but he wanted additional opinions. After speaking with renowned orthopedist James Andrews, Taylor immediately consented to the career-saving procedure.

"He told me get off the phone with him and lay down so they can do it," Taylor said, "because it needed to be done right away."

After starting in 133 consecutive regular season games, Taylor, 34, plans to sit out Sunday as the Redskins face the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Tex. It is unknown how long Taylor might be sidelined from surgery to relieve compartment syndrome, an excessive buildup of pressure on muscle groups, but it "could be a week or could be, you know, a couple of months," said Taylor, who is in his 12th season.

In a little more than two months with the Redskins, Taylor, acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in late July, has suffered two significant injuries, spraining his right knee in a preseason game and this latest setback. Instead of helping the Redskins against their biggest NFC East rival, Taylor must rest in hopes of coming back soon.

"I was a little scared about that and didn't quite understand why it had to be done so suddenly," said Taylor, who was on crutches with his left leg heavily wrapped as he spoke with reporters in the media room yesterday at Redskins Park.

"I actually wanted to wait till the sun came up. I kept telling the doc, 'Let's wait till the sun comes up and let me talk to some people.' They kept stressing how important it was to get it done right away."

At halftime against the Cardinals, Taylor informed the training staff of his leg pain. Taylor, who deflected three of quarterback Kurt Warner's passes at the line of scrimmage in the game, wore a sleeve on his leg in the second half.

With Taylor's calf still sore after the game, Redskins trainers tested his leg strength and told him to contact someone on the staff if he continued to experience pain. "You say it 100 times a year, 'If you have any problems during the night, thing gets worse, call us,' " said Bubba Tyer, Washington's director of sports medicine.

The pain increased, so Taylor contacted Larry Hess, the team's director of rehabilitation, at about 3 a.m. Hess spoke with Tyer, who contacted Redskins orthopedist Chris Annunziata, and everyone met at the Virginia Hospital Center's emergency room. Annunziata examined Taylor, using an instrument to measure pressure in the lower leg, diagnosed compartment syndrome and told Taylor surgery was needed.

In the lower leg, there are four bundles in the muscles, and the muscles are each surrounded by a thick tissue called fascia, Tyer said. If blood from muscles drains into the fascia, there is no outlet, creating pressure on that muscle group that causes swelling. Compartment syndrome can result in permanent damage to the enclosed muscles and nerves. Without treatment, paresis (slight or partial paralysis), loss of limbs or death could occur.

"This is the first one I've had in my 30-something years with the Redskins, but we've certainly heard about it, and we know about the condition," said Tyer, in his 37th season with the team. "It was told to Jason that we'd have to open him up and let that thing bleed out."

At about 6 a.m., Annunziata performed the procedure, which lasted approximately 20 minutes, Tyer said, making a six-inch incision on the outside of the calf to relieve pressure in the affected compartment. "Sometimes you leave that wound open, but his opened up, it bled, [and] it went back down very nicely," Tyer said. The medical staff "looked at the wound today. It looks good. It's healing properly."

There have been five or six cases of compartment syndrome in the NFL over the last eight seasons, Tyer said. A prominent linebacker from another team, whose identity Tyer declined to reveal, played one week after having the surgery. "We expect him to be fine," Tyer said of Taylor. "If not this week, hopefully next week or the next."

Redskins Notes: Rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly was unable to practice fully, which "didn't help him at all" in his ability to play Sunday after being inactive last week with an ankle injury. He is still favoring the ankle, Coach Jim Zorn said. . . .

Stephon Heyer (shoulder) also missed practice, and if he doesn't practice today he could miss the game. . . .

Mike Sellers missed practice with a quadriceps injury but hopes he can return later in the week, Zorn said. . . .

Zorn also said Clinton Portis was slowed by neck soreness but will play. Portis scored two touchdowns against Arizona and said Tuesday on the John Thompson radio show he thought the Cardinals "began to play dirty.

"They cheap-shotted Randy [Thomas] early on in the game unnecessarily, then they were getting away with some things, you know, the extra pushing. . . . They brought all the extra activity to the game that wasn't needed, so we just let them know, we can play the same way." . . .

The Redskins signed linebacker Johnny Baldwin to their practice squad, replacing linebacker Curtis Gatewood.

Staff writers Jason La Canfora and Dan Steinberg contributed to this report.

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