Right tackle turns to Pilates, yoga to remain healthy

ASHBURN -- Jammal Brown spoke excitedly about being healthy, about not having to worry about his hip. His excitement for the upcoming season was obvious.

And yet the story was never written. Shortly after that interview last August, it became clear: The Redskins right tackle still had issues with his hip. Eventually, the hip affected his groin, and his season again was impacted by injuries.

Redskins notes
» Fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins revealed via Twitter he signed his contract with the Redskins on Thursday. The terms were not disclosed. That leaves only Robert Griffin III and third-round pick Josh LeRibeus unsigned among the nine players Washington drafted.
» Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said the hit he received in practice last week caused him to forget what he told his players 10 minutes later. But within 20 minutes he was fine, he said. To refresh: Cornerback Brandyn Thompson plowed into him near midfield at the end of a pass play. Shanahan's head bounced off the turf. "The guys didn't think I could take a hit at 59," Shanahan said. "I proved I can take a hit. ... It's never happened before in 38 years on the field. I've been on the sideline a couple of times where you kind of get pushed out at the last second but never a shot like that."
» Shanahan said he talked to Brian Banks, who was exonerated in a rape/kidnapping case last week, and a tryout might be held next week. Banks, 26, had verbally committed to Southern Cal 10 years ago before he was charged with the crime. "When somebody goes through the situation he went through, he deserves an opportunity," Shanahan said.
» Linebacker Brian Orakpo
(pectoral) was limited in practice and spent the 11-on-11 portion watching with his shoulder wrapped in ice. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger (knee) participated in individual drills. Defensive end Stephen Bowen (knee), receiver Leonard Hankerson (hip) and running back Tim Hightower (knee) did not participate. Nose tackle Barry Cofield and safety Tanard Jackson had excused absences. Shanahan said Jackson (shoulder) has been cleared to participate.
» Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins said he's 100 percent recovered from surgery on his right knee last August. He also said he's stronger, having focused on his upper body. "I notice that I'm very explosive," he said. "I'm definitely explosive off my right leg because I've been training so hard." - John Keim

So this offseason he started taking yoga and Pilates classes. And now Brown has reason for optimism again.

"I feel I can bend better," he said. "I can play with a better base. I can play with a stronger base. Those are the most important things for an offensive lineman. ... [Last year] I couldn't put as much power on it as I want or move exactly the way I wanted."

Of course, training camp doesn't start for nearly two months. And the real test for Brown is how he fares against opposing linemen -- and whether his hip and groin can hold up through the rigors of a season. He has missed a combined six games the past two years, including four in 2011.

That's why coach Mike Shanahan talked to him after the season about finding a way to stay healthy.

"Hell yeah, I took it as an open challenge," Brown said. "I mean, anytime the boss man wants to talk to you and he sees something he wants you to work at, you take that full force. That's why I was here the whole offseason working on that and showing them that I take what he said serious."

Brown said he already had decided to try yoga before his chat with Shanahan. But he opted to stay in town after talking with the Redskins coach. So three times a week Brown did yoga and Pilates in a one-on-one session in Sterling. He stopped the workouts once the offseason conditioning program officially began April 16. But he will resume them once the Redskins finish their minicamp in mid-June.

"It doesn't look hard, but when you're in there and it's 105 degrees and you're trying to hold a pose and hold your thumbs and palms together, it gets tough," Brown said. "On top of that, I'd have to come in here and get a workout. It got real tough for a while."

But it was worth it, he said. The exercises helped loosen the scar tissue in his hip, providing more flexibility. And Brown said the strength and conditioning coaches and trainers were impressed with his results in an impact test, which measure a player's range of motion.

"He's a lot more fluid than he has been, and hopefully he can play accordingly," Shanahan said. "[Last season] you could tell he was stiff and he wasn't moving like he did in previous years. The hip had never recovered.

"Working on his flexibility has helped him get into stances and be in positions he hasn't been before. When you work on flexibility that much, you get better or you can't play. He's gotten better."

The Redskins need him to be better come September, too. Before he injured his hip in 2009 with New Orleans, Brown was a Pro Bowl player.

"I know what I can do," Brown said. "I just want to get healthy so I can show it."