Kory Lichtensteiger’s 2011 season was cut short just six weeks into the year when, on the Redskins’ first drive of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he went down with devastating injuries to his right knee.
Doctors determined Lichtensteiger had torn both his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and media collateral ligament (MCL), and the Bowling Green product was put under the knife to repair both ligaments Oct. 25, ending his season.
Lichtensteiger knew he had a tough recovery road ahead. But more than a year after that injury, he’s one of the anchors of a Redskins offensive line that is leading the NFL in rushing yards and is in first place in the NFC East Division.
His quick comeback has certainly been a boost for the Redskins’ potent offensive attack, and today the team announced Lichtensteiger as its recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. The honor is given annually to a player from each National Football League team who displays extraordinary courage in the face of adversity.
Here’s a collection of videos chronicling Lichtensteiger’s journey back onto the field and into his familiar position as the Redskins’ starting left guard:
Jan. 11, 2012:
Lichtensteiger talks to reporters after the Redskins’ 2011 season ends. At that point of the year — about three months into his recovery — Lichtensteiger wasn’t sure exactly when he’d be back working out for the Redskins.
“It’ll be sometime late-spring, summer, I don’t know exactly when,” Lichtensteiger said. “I know the original expectation was like eight months after surgery, but I’m not going to try to rush it. At the same time, I want to be out there as soon as I can. I’m going to try to earn my spot back.”
March 15, 2012:
Lichtensteiger returns to Redskins Park to begin working out with teammates like center Will Montgomery and tight end Chris Cooley. He had also just re-signed a one-year deal with the Redskins, which, he said, “is where I want to be.”
He appears on “Redskins Nation” and talks to host Larry Michael about his ongoing recovery.
“I think the problem for me, or what I have to do, is to not rush it,” Lichtensteiger said. “But I know that there is a timetable for me to be back and for me to be a contributor this year. I’ve got to continue with my rehab and make sure that everything goes according to the plan.”
At that point, Lichtensteiger was certain he’d be available for Training Camp practices. He said his “low moment” of the entire knee injury ordeal was the first month after ending his season prematurely.
“There was just a lot of pain — more than what I was prepared for,” he recalled. “It took a while to get off all the medication, and to kind of get my quality of life back, to be able to walk and be able to drive. It was my right leg, so I couldn’t drive myself — I had to have a chauffeur. My wife acted as that role for me. I mean, it’s good to have what I consider the low point over with, and now it’s all up from here.”
The high point?
“I think when I was allowed to start running again; to go from on the treadmill to actually being on grass and on the turf and being able to do the things that I kind of took for granted before,” Lichtensteiger told Michael. “‘m definitely excited to be — not back to 100 percent, by any means — but to be able to do a lot of things that I was doing before.”
July 27, 2012:
Lichtensteiger talks to reporters after a morning walk-through session during Training Camp. He reveals that he was relieved that he didn’t participate in any practice reps during mini-camp because his knee still wasn’t at 100 percent.
“I’d go out and do the individual stuff, I’d do a little conditioning, and then that knee would really stiffen up for the rest of practice,” Lichtensteiger said. “So far in camp, it feels great. I feel like, in the last month and half, I’ve made some huge strides. You know, it just takes time.”
Lichtensteiger said he was happy to feel the potential to perform at a high level again.
“I’ve got to knock some dust off,” he said. “Like I said, it’s been a long time. I feel like my old self out there. I feel like I haven’t lost a step anywhere.”
Aug. 22, 2012:
Lichtensteiger speaks to the media before a preseason practice. As it would turn out, he sits out the entire preseason as he continues to slowly work his way back into the offensive line mix. The Redskins were still three days away from their third preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“I’ve just got to get ready,” he said. “I’ve got to take, at some point, reps in practice and try to get a feel how a game goes. You know, whenever I do that and I feel comfortable, that’s when I’m sure they’ll try to put me in.”
Lichtensteiger said he was hesitant to put a timetable on his return, saying he would like to get back by the fourth preseason game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but just wasn’t sure.
“I’m hesitant to put a timeline on anything, like ‘Hey, yeah, I’m going to be back for the fourth preseason game,” Lichtensteiger said. “But, if I feel like I’m up to it and the coaches trust me to go in there, it’s a possibility. But who knows?”
At that point, Lichtensteiger was not yet getting any reps with the first-team offense in practice.
“What I’m doing right now is I’m getting some contact in practice in the individual part of it,” he said. “But as far as doing live, team reps, I’m not there yet. But I think I’m close.”
Nov. 14, 2012
Lichtensteiger is back for the Redskins. He actually was ready to go for their first game of the regular season, Sept. 9 vs. the New Orleans Saints.
By this point, the Redskins were returning from their Bye Week with a 3-6 record, though they weren’t mathematically factored out of the playoff picture yet.
His knee at this point was such a non-factor that much of the discussion turned to his Bye Week activities, which centered on the birth of his fourth son, Maclin. Lichtensteiger said he was still trying to catch up on some missed sleep.
“He was 7 (pounds), 15 (ounces) and the length was 20 and three-quarters,” the proud father reported. “My wife had it worse than me, but once we got him home — he actually is a pretty good sleeper — but, still, he wakes up every three hours.”
“Mac,” as he’s called, joined brothers Ayden, Kale and Bo. He admitted to reporters that his days of helping birth babies with his wife, Mandi, were officially finished.
“If I played point guard, we could have a basketball team,” Lichtensteiger said of himself and his four sons.
He did mention how beneficial the Bye Week was for him and his knee.
“It was very timely for me,” Lichtensteiger said. “I mean, it’s a long season; it’s been a grind. But I think anytime you get a Bye Week — I thought it was better we got it later this year. Get the good grind in to begin with, and at this point, it’s kind of on the way down.”
Congratulations to Kory on this wonderful honor, and we look forward to seeing him continue his strong play for the rest of 2012 and beyond.
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