Roy Helu Jr. had surgery on February 5th to correct a lingering injury to his left foot, the Redskins running back said Friday.
Helu got hurt in the season opener in 2012 and, after attempting to play through the discomfort, he eventually landed on the injured reserve list September 26, ending his second NFL season after only three games. The originally diagnosis was a turf toe-like ailment, but when Helu still couldn’t run at full speed in January, and X-rays and MRI exams did not reveal any structural damage, he began searching for answers.
“In January, I hit a road block, where I couldn’t sprint but everything else was great. I could jog at a high pace, I just couldn’t sprint,” Helu said in a phone conversation. "I made the decision to see what was wrong. I just knew my body was telling me that, with this amount of time, I should be recovered.”
After visiting with foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, Helu opted for a surgical procedure.
“Off of an instinct that something was wrong, we went into surgery,” Helu said. “And we found out there was damaged cartilage [near the big toe] that was causing the problem, but it wasn’t showing up on anything. Thankfully we found it and now it’s gone. The road to recovery this time, since February, has been a lot better.”
Helu ran for the first time since the surgery on Tuesday, and based on how he’s feeling, he said he's aiming to be “without limitations” at the start of OTAs on May 20th.
“I’ve been recuperating from the runs really well the next day, so I've been able to run again,” Helu said. “I was very encouraged about what it felt like to run again, and the condition I was in. So it’s looking like a good recovery so far.”
If Helu’s recovery stays on target, it’s possible he’ll become an important part of the Redskins’ offense next season. He’s a versatile, change-of-pace back who could complement rugged runner Alfred Morris quite nicely.
It’s not hard to envision Helu being a used as a fleet-footed option on third downs. His pass-catching ability also makes him a threat out of the backfield, particularly on screens. In 15 games during the 2011 season, Helu rushed for 640 yards on 151 carries and snagged 49 passes for 379 yards.
Helu’s ability has always been obvious. Now he’s just got to get and stay healthy.
“Coming off of a year where I didn’t get to participate in that great playoff run, that really gives me a great desire to be a part of something bigger than myself,” he said. “I'm just nibbling at the bit to get back to football health, where I’m able to compete at a high level.”