Training camp just started, and the Washington Redskins are already in no mood to mess with any kind of Achilles tendon injury.
First-round pick Josh Doctson has been bothered by a sore left Achilles tendon since May and the problem hasn't gone away. So the Redskins on Thursday put the rookie wide receiver on the physically unable to perform list, not long after they lost outside linebacker Junior Galette for the season with another torn Achilles tendon has he prepared for camp.
On the first day of workouts, it was clear the team is playing it ultra-safe with Doctson.
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Coach Jay Gruden said Doctson underwent a non-surgical treatment before training camp started Thursday. There's no official time frame for the 22nd pick to get on the field with his teammates, though Gruden said the Redskins are going to hold him out "for a little bit" until he's fully healthy.
"We weren't very satisfied with the way his Achilles was coming along. He still had a lot of soreness in the morning when he'd wake up," Gruden said. "I don't think he's very far away, but we're being probably more cautious right now because it is a significant deal. The Achilles for a wide receiver with his explosion, we want it to be 100 percent. We don't want it to re-occur, so we're trying to nip it in the bud right now."
It has already been a rough road to the NFL for Doctson, who missed the final three games of his collegiate career at TCU, including the Alamo Bowl, with a broken wrist. When he fell to 22, the Redskins took him and envision him as a big piece of their future offense.
Even though Doctson isn't in the mix early in training camp, getting him better is a long-term game plan, especially considering that DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are free agents after next season. But with all the chatter about higher expectations coming off an NFC East title, the Redskins would like to get Doctson ready for the season opener Sept. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Doctson said he's listening to teammates and coaches who are telling him it's a long process and is trying to be patient despite the Achilles tendon becoming a "lingering issue."
"It's going to be a long year, so I've got plenty of time," Doctson said. "I heal fast. My first time really being injured was my senior year, and that was a broken wrist. I've had hamstrings and stuff like that, but I always heal up quick, so I'm not really worried about it."
It's not anywhere near panic time for Doctson, who hasn't played in a game since Nov. 14 against Kansas. But Gruden joked that the staff's message to Doctson is: "Be patient, but hurry up."
Thursday was Doctson's first day of rehab for the injury, which first happened at rookie minicamp in May and was then aggravated during organized team activities. What started as a tweak has become a problem bad enough that Washington is slow-playing his health for now.
Doctson watched the first day of camp from the sideline but is OK with the conservative approach.
"Everybody wants to play football, but you can't rush it," the 23-year-old said. "I rushed it in OTAs and did what I did. I'm just going to be patient this time."
Doctson isn't concerned, and neither is quarterback Kirk Cousins, who also brushed off playing on the one-year franchise tag when a long-term deal couldn't get worked out. Cousins doesn't have a long-term deal but he's thinking long term when it comes to Doctson.
"We'll be praying for Josh to get healthy as fast as possible," Cousins said. "We do believe he's a great talent and can help us, so we're excited not just for this week or next week but for the long haul of what he could for the Redskins."