RICHMOND — It had been so long since Shawn Lauvao last took the field with his teammates.
He watched the final 13 games of last season after tearing ligaments in his left ankle. More procedures followed on a troublesome right foot and Lauvao, Washington’s starting left guard, was left on the sidelines again during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp. He even began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
It was a short stay, however. On Day 4 of camp, Lauvao was activated from the PUP list and returned to the field for an afternoon practice.
“It was good, man,” Lauvao said. “I’m just happy to be out there with my guys.”
It was never a simple process, though. Lauvao underwent five different procedures to fix “issues” with his right foot, the most recent one in January. Those were all independent of the ankle injury that ended his 2015 season in a Week 3 game at the New York Giants.
Lauvao praised the training staff for how it handled his case – sticking to the plan all offseason and even being cautious once camp started.
“At the end of the day, it’s about having that vision in your mind and putting one foot forward after the next,” Lauvao said of his comeback. “There is a price to be paid to play this game. I made the decision a long time ago. There’s a lot of things I’m willing to give up. You’re bound to get hurt. I don’t know if anybody’s played this game and not been hurt.”
Lauvao was thrown into the fire on Monday. He took repetitions in one-on-one drills with defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois and twice stopped him on a bull rush, anchoring his legs and holding firm. Jean Francois pulled up after the second attempt and slapped Lauvao on the back.
Later, he anchored again and stopped Stephen Paea, probably the strongest player on the team. It wasn’t a perfect day and Lauvao is far from a guaranteed starter, according to coach Jay Gruden. Spencer Long and Arie Kouandjio, two younger players, will get their reps, too. But for Lauvao it was a nice start.
“There’s certain obstacles, man,” Lauvao said. “I feel like even in the midst of that, there’s a certain way. Those things make you stronger. You might get broken, but you put yourself back together.”
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