Redskins

Carriker Driven to Return; ‘Caged Tiger’ During Slow Rehab

by David Elfin
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Adam Carriker (credit: Getty Images)

Adam Carriker (credit: Getty Images)

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Redskins defensive end Adam Carriker’s radio show with 106.7 The Fan’s Chuck Carroll is called “4th & Pain.” That’s appropriate because much of Carriker’s NFL career has revolved around pain.

Carriker, the unlucky 13th pick in the 2007 draft out, missed just one game during his first two seasons with St. Louis before being sidelined for all of 2009 after shoulder surgery. The next offseason, the Rams virtually gave Carriker to the Redskins for whom he became an immediate regular.

The Nebraska product produced a career-high five and a half sacks in 2011 – topping the total of his previous three seasons. However, in Week 2 of 2012, ironically in St. Louis, Carriker tore his right quadriceps and was done for the year.

Nine months and two surgeries later, Carriker has yet to move beyond the training room. In an email, he revealed that he won’t be ready when training camp starts on July 25. Carriker just turned 29 and has three years left on his contract, but now his 2013 season is in doubt as are his chances of reclaiming his starting spot from Jarvis Jenkins, who wasn’t special last year but was healthy and remains so.

“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been frustrated at times,” Carriker wrote in the email. “I missed all of the offseason program because I was inside on a daily basis doing rehab three times a day, six days a week. I will be on [the physically unable to perform] list at the start of camp.”

Coach Mike Shanahan has also been frustrated at Carriker’s absence from the field.

“It has been a slow process [and Adam] is here all the time working out, but there was a setback with it,” Shanahan said last Wednesday, referring to the second surgery. “He’s got inflammation in that tendon that goes into the knee from the quad.”

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett held that position with the Rams when Carriker was drafted, was his head coach in 2008 and was influential in bringing him to Washington in 2010.

“Knowing how competitive Adam is, he’ll be back at some point,” Haslett said. “He’s probably one of the hardest working guys we have on the team. If you … don’t want to say, ‘This guy won’t make it back,’ don’t say that about Adam.”

Indeed. Carriker promised that he will play this season.

“I will not be stopped,” he wrote. “I feel like a caged tiger at the zoo pacing back and forth searching for a weakness in the cage. When I do rehab that’s exactly what I’m doing. Every day that tiger gets closer to finding the weakness and getting out of the cage. Every day in rehab I get closer to getting back to doing what I love to do, play football! Someday that cage door is going to break open and I’m going to storm the field. I am working my [butt] off! I am absolutely driven and borderline consumed to get back on the field! I am driven to help this team win, go deeper in the playoffs and win a Super Bowl.”

For now, Shanahan and Haslett would be glad just to have Carriker back in uniform and available to play again.

David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last three Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since March 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidElfin

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