Acupuncture. Massage. Heat. Laser. Stretching. Ankle mobility.
That’s just a sample of the daily treatments Redskins inside linebacker Zach Brown is undergoing to fend off an Achilles’ tear and finish the 2017 season strong, even though Washington (5-7) has virtually no chance of making the playoffs.
Brown, who’s battling a sore hamstring and Achilles’ tendon, was among five ailing Redskins who didn’t practice Wednesday. But Brown said he’s not entertaining the thought of not playing Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers (6-6).
Signed to a one-year deal in April after a Pro Bowl-caliber season at Buffalo (149 tackles, four sacks, one interception), Brown has started all 12 games for the Redskins. Meanwhile, four players have cycled in and out of the other starting inside linebacker position because of injuries — Mason Foster and Will Compton, who ultimately landed on injured reserve, and Martrell Spaight and Zach Vigil.
Brown, 28, leads the NFL in tackles (117) and has been the Redskins’ biggest asset on an injury-plagued defense.
“Everybody is playing hurt,” Brown said. His mind-set is this: If he can run and lift his arms, he’s playing.
That doesn’t mean Brown is oblivious to the risk.
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman pushed himself to keep competing on an Achilles’ injury that he feared might not hold up, and the tendon ultimately ruptured and ended his season in the Seahawks’ Nov. 9 victory over the Cardinals.
Just last week, Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith was carted off the field after tearing his Achilles’ tendon.
“It’s always on my mind,” Brown said Wednesday, following the team’s first full practice of the week in preparation for Sunday’s game at the Chargers. “You’ve just got to keep getting treatment on it, and hopefully it’ll get better. It’s always a concern, but if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. You could be running up the stairs, and it could happen. Nothing I can do about it. All I can do is keep doing treatment on it.”
As for anyone who tries to convince him he’d be better served by shutting himself down for the season, Brown isn’t listening. The fact that the playoffs aren’t at stake doesn’t matter, in his view, nor does the fact that he’s on a one-year deal, with no job security in hand.
“At the end of the day, I’m going out there because I like to play the game,” Brown said. “I like to play the game with passion. I hate to lose. And I’m trying my best to help some of the young guys. [I tell them] ‘You can rest when the season is over.’”
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