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As it turns out, Taylor Jacobs’ injured toe is considerably worse than originally thought. What was going to be a one-week layoff due to a sprained toe, injured making a cut in the scrimmage in Baltimore, is now an that may stretch the regular season.
The diagnosis is now a dislocated toe. "I haven't even started jogging yet," Jacobs said. "They told me whenever I can just walk straight the whole day without it being sore, then the next step would be to start jogging." So, he has to walk before he can run.
According to trainer Bubba Tyer, Jacobs is week to week and other members of the training staff have told the second-year receiver that his expected recovery time is 2-6 weeks. The latter estimate could have Jacobs not being in the lineup until after the Redskins’ week three bye.
All of this has implications for Jacobs personally and for the wide receiver corps as a whole. As for Jacobs himself, this has to be considered a very frustrating, if not devastating, setback. He appeared to be ready to step up and have a breakout season. His coaches and teammates had nothing but praise for how hard Jacobs worked during the offseason. Jacobs’ work had earned the team’s 2002 second-round draft pick a firm grip on the third WR slot and he seemed posed to push David Patten hard for the second starting job opposite Santana Moss. This injury is a setback to the hopes for Jacobs to have a breakout season.
This injury follows an abdominal injury that cost him half the games in his rookie season. It’s often unfair, but two significant injuries in three seasons can create whispers that a player is injury-prone, a label nobody wants to have.
Obviously, there are major effects on the wide receiver corps as a whole, with ripples extending through the entire 53-man roster. Moss and Patten on the starters. James Thrash was number four on the depth chart. Now, Thrash is a great asset to the team, but if he is lining up in the slot in a three-WR set this team is in trouble. As valuable a performer as Thrash is on special teams, he’s no better than an occasional option at receiver.
That brings the other three receivers that are considered to have a realistic chance of making the roster into the picture. Kevin Dyson and Darnerien McCants are larger, possession-type receivers while Antonio Brown has world-class speed. Dyson is knocking off rust after having missed most of the past two seasons and is rounding into form. He could be the best option to replace Jacobs as the third receiver on the depth chart. McCants could also step up into that role if he could just hold on to the ball consistently. He has had trouble doing so both in practice and during last Saturday’s preseason game against Carolina.
Brown is the wild card in all of this. He has speed, no doubt, and has been showing that he has a decent set of hands. While he’s a virtual lock to make the final roster as a kick returner, it would be risky to rely on him to play a significant role as a receiver, primarily because he has no pass receptions in 19 NFL games.
Jacobs’ status could have implications beyond the receiver corps. If his status is still cloudy as the final cutdown approaches, the coaches will have some difficult decisions to make. The team is expected to carry five wide receivers with Brown possibly being the sixth and counted as a return specialist. If it’s apparent that Jacobs will be on the inactive list until October (their first game after the bye is October 2), they may decide to keep an extra receiver on until Jacobs can come back and get into game shape.
Should that happen, of course, another player at another position would have to be released to make room. So, not only are most Redskins fans and the organization rooting for a quick return to health for Taylor Jacobs, a handful of players whose chances of making the roster are on the bubble are fervently hoping that Jacobs’ toe heals soon as well.