June 30, 2010
Healthy again, Werner looks forward
Jason Werner's off-seasons have always been filled with questions.
Health issues have been his primary concern, centered mostly on his back problems that required multiple surgeries and forced him out of entire seasons earlier in his career. This off-season had some of the same, with questions over his health - the linebacker came off last season with a heel injury that kept him out of spring practice - and availability for the upcoming season. But once he was granted an extra year of eligibility, and with his health having returned to 100-percent, it's easy to see why Werner's now so eager to get back to the field in the fall.
"I'm extremely excited," said Werner, a co-captain. "Once I got that extra year, I obviously knew I was going to be playing. It's good to know that I will be out there and can prepare for the season and help get everybody else ready.
"I have something to look forward to, and it's not really a question. I know I'm going to be there, so I'm really excited."
Now, Werner would like to return to the form that made him one of the Big Ten's best linebackers during the first half of last season, before he was significantly slowed up by the nagging heel injury. In the first seven games of 2009, the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder had 55 tackles, 13 for loss, with 4.5 sacks. Post-injury, though, his productivity diminished, with him having only 22 tackles, 1.5 for loss and no sacks in the last five games.
"It was really frustrating because at the end of the year I almost felt like I was worthless out there," said Werner, whose 14.5 TFLs still ranked eighth in the Big Ten. "It was just really hard to run and if you take your speed element out of there, you just become much easier to block and become less active.
"I don't want to make excuses, I'm just glad that got taken care of and is out of the way because at the end of the year it was really hard to run."
After the season, Werner had surgery to repair the broken down heel, with the rehabilitation keeping him out of the spring. But he's back running now, the last step in his road to recovery.
"I feel great," he said Tuesday morning. "I really haven't had any problems at all. Everything feels good; I'm back into shape and doing everything now."
Provided he doesn't suffer a setback - and there's no reason to think he will, other than his history of being plagued by them - Werner will head into the 2010 season looking to play in back-to-back years for the first time in his career.
After playing as a backup safety his rookie year in '05, the back issues first flared up, causing him to miss the next year. A linebacker in '07, he backed up Stanford Keglar, playing in all 13 games. But on the eve of the next season, Werner's back problems reappeared, sidelining him yet again. It wasn't until after two surgeries that Werner was again ready to play, and he did so in '09, totaling his 77 tackles, third best on the team.
"Last year, for as excited as I was to be out there, after the season I was like 'OK, that was a good first step,'" Werner said, "but I know I can do a lot more for the team on a full, healthy season and another year of experience. I've always wanted that back-to-back years to play, because having a year under your belt goes a long way."
Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2010. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.
Check out GoldandBlack.com on | |
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial