Training Staff Lessens Strains on Redskins

Injuries are inevitable, but Ladell Betts, above, said extra attention provided by an expanded training staff has helped.
Injuries are inevitable, but Ladell Betts, above, said extra attention provided by an expanded training staff has helped. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
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By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Midway through last season, the Redskins Park training room was filled with players nursing sore hamstrings and the like. Some played through the nagging pain, albeit in a diminished capacity. Others missed games entirely, triggering a sense of alarm.

"They sure get your attention," Bubba Tyer, the Redskins' director of sports medicine, said of the rash of hamstring injuries. "And we gave it our attention."

Aware of the spike in muscle strains and their tendency to linger, concern drifted down from the organization's highest levels. Even before the season ended, owner Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, executive vice president of football operations, called for action in hopes of preventing future outbreaks.

A year later, Redskins officials said they have made progress.

Washington hardly has been exempt from injuries, as several players have trudged through nagging ailments this season. Players, coaches and trainers alike concede they are part of the game. But they also agree the impact made by nagging injuries -- such as hamstrings -- have not been as debilitating as last season.

Members of the athletic training staff said the changes made in response to last year's outbreak might be playing a part in making the difference.

"We think that's helping us," said Larry Hess, the Redskins' director of rehabilitation. "It's not a cure-all, and nothing will be with these guys because it's football. You're going to have injuries. But if we prevent that one hamstring that keeps the star player out, we've accomplished a great deal here."

Since the midpoint of last season, the Redskins have reorganized the athletic training department, while the strength and conditioning staff has developed new stretches and exercises designed to help cut down on injuries.

"It's made a tremendous impact," Coach Jim Zorn said. "We've had excellent communication between trainers and coaches, doctors, players and coaches."

The biggest change was the addition of first-year assistant athletic trainer Elliott Jermyn. Tyer said it became clear the training staff needed another staffer capable of providing manual therapy.

The addition, he said, has freed up staffers to focus on other duties, including working to keep players on the field who may already be fighting injuries.

"You've only got so many minutes in the day to work with these guys," Tyer said.


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