Frank Ragnow did not want to undergo toe surgery, but in the end, it was the best thing for him.
Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday that Ragnow initially was reluctant to go undergo a procedure that will sideline him for the rest of the season because he wanted to play again this fall.
“He feels guilty and he doesn’t need to feel guilty,” Campbell said. “That’s why you love him, though, too. Like, he wants to be a part of this and he feels like he’s letting guys down and that’s just the opposite. It’s like, ‘No, it’s not. You’re being unselfish when you need to be selfish about this.’”
By having surgery now, Ragnow should be healthy enough to take part in most or all of the Lions’ formal offseason program next spring and could avoid some of the pitfalls that come with playing through a turf toe-type injury.
Campbell said there was “a chance” Ragnow could have returned late this season with rest and rehab, “but there’s a bigger chance that however it scars in, it’s not properly healed the right way and we’re dealing with this for the rest of his career.”
“Or it gets arthritic sooner than later, and now it’s like, ‘What are we doing?’” Campbell said. “So it was the right thing to do. It was significant enough to where it needed to be fixed properly and let it heal properly.”
Ragnow, 25, signed a four-year, $56 million contract extension with the Lions in May that made him the highest-paid center in the NFL.
He made his first Pro Bowl last season, is considered one of the best centers in the NFL, and the Lions are counting on him to be a key player once they finish their current rebuild.
Ragnow, who was injured in the first half of the Lions’ Oct. 3 loss to the Chicago Bears, wrote on Instagram early Wednesday that surgery was successful and he is looking forward to returning in 2022.
“It has been an extremely frustrating past 48 hours,” Ragnow wrote. “I take a lot of pride in reliability and knowing I won’t be there to have my guy’s backs going into battle sucks. But the train keeps on rolling and the fellas will be just fine… Had a successful surgery yesterday on my stupid toe and can’t wait to attack the process and get back to 100%. Thanks for all the kind words and support and let’s keep supporting the fellas this Sunday!”
The Lions could get left tackle Taylor Decker back from hand surgery as soon as Sunday, but Ragnow’s injury means their projected starting offensive line will not play a snap together this season.
Rookie Penei Sewell is expected to move from left to right tackle when Decker returns, and journeyman Evan Brown will take Ragnow’s place at center. Brown played every snap at center in the Lions’ 19-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week and is expected to man the position going forward.
“It was the right thing,” Campbell said. “We’ll miss him, and there again, Evan Brown’s got to step up. I thought he did a good job last week and he’s our guy, man. I expect him to continue.”