Detroit Lions’ Frank Ragnow: Toe injury ‘inoperable,’ learning to manage pain

Detroit Free Press

Frank Ragnow gutted through a toe injury last season to make the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career, but the Detroit Lions center did not undergo corrective surgery this offseason because he said his latest injury is “inoperable.”

Ragnow tore the plantar plate in his left foot in Week 4 of the 2021 season, then missed the rest of the year. He said at his charity skeet shooting event Thursday he re-tore his plantar plate on the opening drive of last year’s Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and has “no healthy tissue left” in his toe.

“So it would have to be an experimental procedure to get that done and that’s not something the NFL O-linemen are in the business of,” Ragnow said.

Ragnow missed one game with his injury last season and played through considerable pain the final 16 weeks. He allowd one sack in 16 starts, according to a Free Press charting of plays, and was voted to the Pro Bowl as the anchor of one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

Ragnow practiced sparingly at times last season and said the Lions are “being smart with it” in workouts this offseason.

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“It’s a deal where it’s kind of inoperable, so it’s kind of something that we’re trying to navigate,” Ragnow said. “Manage. But hopefully, its not going to be near to the altitude of last year where it was like brutal.”

Last season, Ragnow called his injury “really frustrating” and joked that he lived in the training room. He said dealing with constant pain tested his focus on every play.

“We’re not rushing (back), making sure I get enough rest cause last season was one to forget in terms of that, so we’re trying to be smart,” Ragnow said.

Asked Thursday if he expects to deal with the injury for the rest of his career, Ragnow said he does not believe that will be the case.

“Cause it’s like turf toe, right?” Ragnow said. “It’s the most severe degree turf toe. It just depends on how it impacts different guys. Like it’s different cause your sesmoid’s moving and stuff, but a lot of guys, they don’t even get the surgery so it just depends. But hopefully it scars over and that’s kind of how it’s been and it’s a lot better.”

The Lions return four starters on their offensive line in Ragnow, tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell and left guard Jonah Jackson. Right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is expected to return from back surgery, and took part in Thursday’s charity event, and the Lions signed veteran interior lineman Graham Glasgow this offseason.

Glasgow will serve as Ragnow’s primary backup this fall if he does not win the starting right guard job.

“It was tough (last season), cause I just was so mad that it happened again,” Ragnow said. “Like I was over it, had a great training camp, feeling good, and then the first game of the season happened so I just had to fight through it

“(The Lions are) being great. And I’ll be pretty normal, they’re just going to take care of me. Like an old vet, I guess. Year 6, already an old vet.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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