The Skins Have The Amazing Ability To Complicate And Worsen Any Injury To Their Players

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Photo: Matt Rourke (AP)

Colt McCoy was the presumptive favorite to earn the not-especially-coveted starting quarterback job in Washington during training camp. That race appears to be up in the air today, after head coach Jay Gruden announced Wednesday that McCoy will miss Thursday night’s exhibition against the Bengals, which would’ve been McCoy’s first appearance of the preseason. Less troubling than that he will miss the game is the reason why:

That injury from December was a broken leg, suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 of last season. If eight-plus months seems like an especially long time for a non-catastrophic broken leg to heal, you should know that McCoy’s recovery did not proceed along a normal timeline. As Gruden explained to JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington back in April, McCoy required additional procedures during the offseason because the team pushed too aggressively to get him back last season:

“What happened was when he had the injury we were aggressive trying to get him back on the field so fast we didn’t give it time enough to heal the right way so they went back in and did a small procedure to make sure that thing is on track to be full strength by the season,” Gruden explained at the NFL League Meetings in Arizona last month.


That second procedure was not McCoy’s last—he reportedly required a third “minor procedure” in the spring, although the Skins were confident at the time that he’d be up to speed in time for this preseason. Rushing a player back from a significant injury in order to chase a long-shot playoff berth is a bad look, especially if it leads to multiple setbacks in his recovery and ultimately cuts into his shot at earning a starting spot the next season. But this sort of injury chaos is pretty much par for the course for one of the most dysfunctional organizations in professional sports. Consider the following:

  • Running back Derrius Guice tore his ACL during Washington’s first exhibition of last preseason, and he, too, has been ruled out Thursday due to an overlong, complication-riddled recovery process. Guice had three surgeries after the ACL repair, to fight infection, and for two months required an IV three times a day for three hours at a time. Guice has been a participant at training camp, but has still not been cleared by doctors for full contact.
  • Quarterback Alex Smith, the last guy to win the Skins’ starting job out of training camp, is expected to miss all of this season amid a prolonged healing process following his own gruesome leg injury, suffered last season. Smith dealt with a “serious” post-op infection of his own, which kept him in the hospital for at least a couple weeks following emergency surgery to repair the break.
  • Left tackle Trent Williams is currently holding out after demanding a trade from the team, at least in part due to frustration over how the team’s medical staff handled a benign tumor growing on his scalp. Williams reportedly feels the team misdiagnosed the growth—Jason La Canfora said the holdout has little to do with money; former teammate DeAngelo Hall said Williams wanted the team to “get that training staff out of here.”
  • Broncos safety and former Skins draft pick Su’a Cravens is currently in a dispute with the team over how they handled his post-concussion syndrome back in 2017. Cravens briefly planned to retire, after just one season in the league, before team president Bruce Allen talked him out of it. Then, just as Cravens was prepared to return to action, the team placed him on the reserve/left squad list, issued a snotty statement, and came after his compensation:

This feels like a good time to mention that the team’s training staff won the Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year for 2018.