When the Redskins signed Oshiomogho Atogwe in the offseason, they envisioned him teaming with LaRon Landry to form one of the NFL’s most prolific safety tandems. What they didn’t foresee was each of them suffering through injuries that hampered their effectiveness all season long.
Atogwe and Landry have combined to miss eight games this year and it appears as if Landry’s season is over as the Redskins are set to place him on injured reserve with Achilles and groin injuries.
“I thought those two would be kind of like Ryan Clark and Troy [Polamalu] in Pittsburgh,” said defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. “It hasn’t worked out that way obviously…Those things we adapt to and you get better, but that’s one area that we’ve got to make sure you know we get some stability in the future.”
There’s no denying his athletic ability, but Landry hasn’t ever been the force Washington hoped for when they drafted him with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Now with his contract expiring at the end of the year, Landry’s career with the Redskins is at a crossroads.
The talent is there. We witnessed it over a nine-game stretch in 2010 when he recorded 85 tackles, an interception and a sack to emerge as one of the league’s brightest defensive stars. After three years of development, the game had slowed down for him – Landry had figured it out and it was a fearsome sight to behold.
However, an Achilles injury sidelined him for the second half of the season and Landry headed into his contract year with plenty of questions to answer. Could he rebound from the nagging injury and pick up where he left off in 2010?
Unfortunately after a rocky season, his future with the team is even more murky. Things haven’t gone according to plan for the safety as the injury carried over, and Landry missed the first two games of the season. When he did return he was never able to play at full speed, and it limited his effectiveness.
Landry is likely to command a substantial payday despite injury concerns and the fact that he’s never put together a full season playing at an elite level. Since there’s no guarantee the reward will outweigh the risk, Mike Shanahan’s decision will be one of the most intriguing topics of the offseason.
“[Landry] has not been healthy,” he said. “He’s been trying to get out there. He’s been working extremely hard in rehab. He just hasn’t been able to go…last year in the first nine games that he played, he should have been Player of the Year. I think he would have been Defensive Player of the Year. But he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and hopefully he can get it fixed.”
When at 100 percent, Landry is the playmaker the Redskins don’t currently have in the secondary. But at this point, it’s not a given he’ll ever be able to shake off the injuries. Whatever the Redskins decide to do with him -- be it pay him or let him walk -- it will be a tremendous gamble.
“He was obviously a playmaker,” Haslett said. “The way he plays the game with power and speed it brings something to the table that a lot guys don’t have and it’s hard to find in this league.”