Cornerback Chris Culliver suffered his fair share of injuries during his first five NFL seasons. His 2015 campaign, which doubled as his first with the Washington Redskins, was no different. The fallout now puts his 2016 scenario into uncertainty.
In 2013, Culliver tore his left ACL during a non-contact drill in training camp with the 49ers, causing him to miss his entire third season. He rebounded with a strong 2014 campaign, recording four interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble-return touchdown during his contract year.
With Culliver’s injury apparently in the rearview, the Redskins signed him to a 4-year, $32 million deal over the summer. However, swelling in the surgically repaired left knee ended up holding him out of three games preceding the team’s Week-8 bye. He returned to play two games before sustaining a shoulder injury against the Carolina Panthers in Week 11. As the Redskins sought a second opinion on the MRI done on his shoulder, Culliver tore both the ACL and the MCL in his right knee during practice.
“The way it happened, that’s one of the more frustrating parts,” Culliver said. “Not the [actuality] of it happening, but the way it happened--practice and somebody running into you--you don’t expect those type of things.”
Suffering two serious knee injuries over the course of three years is plenty of reason for frustration. The fact that both setbacks occurred in unlikely practice scenarios Still, Culliver said that having successfully recovered from ACL surgery once before helps him keep “a good perspective” in handling it this time around.
“Just taking my steps and taking my time with it,” Culliver said. “The progression is definitely there and I’m doing good.”
“Really it’s just dependent on me, dependent on my body,” he added. “What I’m out there doing.”
The 27-year-old knows the recipe for successful healing contains one part patience and one part perseverance. As he prepares for his sixth year in the league, Culliver acknowledged that he may not be fully ready for OTAs in late spring. Still, he spoke with confidence in setting his targeted return date of Week 1.
“You might see me in and out of OTAs,” Culliver said. “You’ll see me, definitely, in the [regular] season.”
When, at what level and where are the next questions. Culliver admitted the recovery process from this injury could take up to two years to fully recover. The reported wording of his contract combined with his serving of a one-game suspension in Week 2 may give the Redskins pause in deciding to bring him back. Washington's uncertainty at corner beyond Bashaud Breeland could have Washington's decisiion makers thinking it needs Culliver. Stay tuned.
Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @danrothdc.
To get instant Redskins notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!
Be sure to check out the ever-growing benefit package of being a Breaking Burgundy Insider! Check it out HERE.l