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Injuries Keeping Taylor From Gaining His Edge

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The Washington Post's Jason Reid previews Sunday's game against the winless Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Video by washingtonpost.com
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By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Buffalo Bills were preoccupied with defensive end Jason Taylor. Their tackles each were penalized for false starts after he lined up opposite them early in a preseason game Aug. 9 at FedEx Field. In his Washington Redskins debut, Taylor had that quickly impressed.

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"He lined up one time on one side, the guy jumped offsides there," Redskins defensive line coach John Palermo recalled the other day. "Then he lined up on the other side, the guy jumped offsides there. Obviously, he showed some skill and some quickness. You had to be excited."

The Redskins still are excited about Taylor's potential impact, coaches and players said this week, but things have not developed as Taylor or the team hoped. In a little more than two months with the Redskins, Taylor, acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in late July, has sprained his right knee in a preseason game and seriously injured his left calf.

Taylor underwent emergency surgery after his most recent injury -- a procedure that saved his career but ended his streak at 133 consecutive regular season starts -- and is scheduled to have his calf drained again Monday because it has healed slowly. Since joining the Redskins, Taylor, 34, has rarely resembled the all-pro performer and former NFL defensive player of the year for whom they dealt a second-round pick in 2009 and sixth-round pick in 2010, and who is owed $8 million this season and $8.5 million next season.

Washington's defense, despite its overall success, has not pressured quarterbacks as consistently as coaches envisioned after adding one of the NFL's most accomplished edge rushers.

Taylor came back before his calf healed, and there is no time frame for a complete recovery, a team medical official said recently. Taylor plans to continue playing through the pain in an effort to contribute, and the Redskins are optimistic he can revert to form at some point this season.

"You're always hopeful about that," Palermo said. "He's working on it, and he's trying to get there. Unfortunately for him, he tries hard and fights through injuries and everything else, but he may not be back to where he wants to be. It's hard to guesstimate, I guess, on that, simply because he is a year older.

"He feels that he'll get himself back into the mix where he's making more plays, and I certainly do. I do see some suddenness in him at times. He was a little more sudden this week than the week before. And as long as he can continue to improve and get better, and his leg feels good, I don't see any reason why he can't start making more plays."

But first, Taylor must return to the operating table. He initially underwent surgery Sept. 22 to relieve acute compartment syndrome after he was inadvertently kicked in the calf a day earlier in a 24-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

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

When the injury occurred, Taylor was not worried. He planned to participate in practice that week as Washington prepared to face the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium, but Taylor wound up at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. Redskins orthopedist Chris Annunziata performed a 20-minute procedure on Taylor's calf, making a six-inch incision on the outside of the calf to relieve pressure. Taylor sat out victories in Dallas and Philadelphia and returned Oct. 12.

Taylor, who missed practice yesterday, is expected to play tomorrow as the Redskins (5-2) face the Detroit Lions (0-6) at Ford Field. He underwent tests Thursday to determine if an infection could be contributing to his lack of progress, but "there's no infection," Coach Jim Zorn said. "That was the thing we were looking for, but things are just healing slowly.


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