Washington Redskins safety LaRon Landry (30) runs with the ball after recovering a fumble against the Indianapolis Colts in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Colts won 27-24. Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
ASHBURN, Va. (Elfin's Endzone/WUSA) -- LaRon Landry's once-vaunted career in Washington hasn't gone as planned. And now it might be history because of a chronically ailing left Achilles that will land him on season-ending injured reserve today and leaves his future in jeopardy with his contract expiring this winter.
The Redskins plucked strong safety Landry out of LSU with the sixth overall selection in the 2007 draft to pair with free safety Sean Taylor, who had been chosen fifth overall in 2004.
With fellow first-rounders Carlos Rogers and Shawn Springs as the cornerbacks, the Redskins' secondary glittered on paper. And for six games, the reality was nearly as bright. Washington went 4-2, holding Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Eli Manning et al to 13.5 points per game.
But Rogers blew out a knee in a Week 7 whipping at New England, Taylor injured a knee in a loss to Philadelphia two weeks after that before dying, 16 days later, from gunshot wounds. The Redskins turned their grief into motivation for a run to the playoffs with Landry out of position in Taylor's spot, but the chiseled, physical Louisianan was miscast as a ballhawk. By the end of the 2009 season, Landry was miserable as Reed Doughty, Chris Horton, Mike Green and converted corners Springs and Fred Smoot all failed to mesh as his partner.
Moved back to strong safety by new coordinator Jim Haslett last year, Landry flourished during the first half of the season. He was playing at an elite level with 85 tackles and plenty of intimidation when he injured his left Achilles during a blowout loss to the Eagles. Landry was done for the year, but he opted not to have surgery. He missed all of training camp and preseason this summer and was only able to play in eight of 13 games this season while rarely performing like his typical hard-hitting self as the Achilles bothered him along with groin and hamstring pulls that likely developed from overcompensating for his main injury.
Although the Achilles isn't fully torn, which would threaten all of Landry's 2012 season, specialist Robert Anderson has recommended that he have surgery. If the 27-year-old Landry chose that route now, it's unclear how long he would be off his feet, but no matter what, he's now damaged goods.
As is the case with Fred Davis, the Redskins' tight end who was suspended last week after three failed drug tests, Landry's value in the free agent market has surely dropped like a European bank stock. Davis was having a career season, but one more failed drug test and he's gone for a year. Everyone in the NFL loves the Landry of the first half of 2010 but he will have missed 15 of 23 games since and might not be ready to show teams he's healthy when the market opens in March.
"I don't know what to expect," Landry told me this week. "I don't know if I'm going to re-sign here to a big contract, to a franchise (one-year, high-priced deal), to whatever they offer me. I don't know how valuable I am to the organization anymore. I don't know if they want me back. It was a (messed up) year last year and it's been a (messed up) year this year."
Haslett said Landry "plays the game with power and speed ... that's hard to find," but coach Mike Shanahan was characteristically non-committal.
"I think it's best for all concerned that he get (the Achilles) operated on because he's gotta get well," Shanahan said. "Last year, the first nine games he should have been Defensive Player of the Year ... I'm not sure if he's ever gotten into the type of shape he would like (since)."
Landry, a workout fanatic whose arms bulge with muscles, likely won't agree about his value to the Redskins come March, but he couldn't disagree about the shape he's in now.
"I don't know if I got too big too fast," he said. "All my injuries have been tendon injuries so I'm going to make some changes in how I train."
But for whom will he be training?
WUSA-9's Redskins Insider, David Elfin, has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of five books on the Redskins including the new "Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History."