Spirits are typically high this time of the year in the National Football League. Sure, veterans may not be all that jazzed about the prospect of a grueling Training Camp in wicked hot temperatures ahead of them, but generally speaking, players from all 32 teams all share something in common this time of year: hope.
And this hope can come in different forms. For example, last year at this time Alfred Morris was a sixth round draft pick of the Washington Redskins out of unheralded Florida Atlantic University. Morris, of course, famously drove a 1991 Mazda 626 from his home in Florida to Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia with the hopes of making the Redskins roster.
Six months later, Morris would set the single season franchise record for rushing yards. He enters 2013 the undisputed starter at running back.
While Morris might be an extreme example, players from all 32 teams have hope this time of year. A veteran, for example, may look around and see that he is finally part of a team that can make a serious playoff run. After all, on July 26 everyone is 0-0. And no one will lose a game for at least six weeks.
Unfortunately, one individual whose hopes are a little less lofty is Redskins defensive end Adam Carriker.
The Redskins traded for Carriker prior to the start of the 2010 season. New defensive coordinator Jim Hazlett was introducing the 3-4 scheme at the time, and Carriker was seen as the prototype 3-4 end.
Plus, the Redskins acquired Carriker at something of a reduced price. The 13th overall selection by the St. Louis Rams out of Nebraska in 2007 had missed the entire 2009 season, and the Redskins were able to acquire him for fifth and seventh-round draft picks.
And during his first two seasons, Carriker was more than solid. No, he wasn’t a dominating force. Yes, the team’s defensive line clearly struggled in 2010. But the Redskins were building something, and Carriker was going to be a part of it. And in 2011, Carriker was arguably the team’s best defensive lineman recording 5.5 sacks. Carriker signed a four year, $20 million contract extension with the Redskins prior to the 2012 season, with $7 million guaranteed.
Unfortunately, in Week 2 last season, Carriker suffered a torn quad tendon against the Rams and would miss the remainder of the year. Yesterday, he was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list as he recently had a third surgery on the tendon. Carriker is now out four to five months.
At this point, the best case scenario for Carriker is that he returns sometime late this season. The fact his contract was restructured earlier this offseason helps his case to stay with the team. Carriker did also vow yesterday that he would return at some point.
And while Redskins are no doubt rooting for the likable Carriker, the chances of him playing meaningful snaps for the Burgundy and Gold are dwindling. Now 29 years-old, Carriker has a significant injury history, and we all know big people have more trouble recovering than smaller people. Plus, the fact Carriker plays a physically demanding position doesn’t bode well for his future prospects.
To be clear, I have no intention of burying Carriker’s career. I wish him well, and you have to admire the perseverance and dedication he has had to the Redskins.
However, at a time when so many of his fellow brethren have reason optimistic and hopeful, Carriker’s hope is that he can one day be in a similar position.
Brian Carroccio is a Washington Redskins blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @bricarr2, ”like” him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ network. Also, check out his baseball and golf columns on Rant Sports.