Shawn Lau­vao, left guard

The Washington Post Sunday - - REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP -

“Don’t go to the dark side,” Lau­vao warned Paul dur­ing the 2015 sea­son. It was ad­vice that the left guard needed as well af­ter an an­kle in­jury in Week 3 against the New York Gi­ants ended his sea­son. Lau­vao was side­lined for the fi­nal 13 reg­u­lar sea­son games as the Red­skins clinched the NFC East divi­sion ti­tle. It was the first time in his ca­reer that his team made the play­offs, and all he could do was watch.

“It’s iso­la­tion, hon­estly, be­cause once you get hurt, man, a lot of it is just you spend­ing time by your­self,” said Lau­vao, 29, who is en­ter­ing his eighth sea­son. “There’s only so much re­hab you can do.”

In 2015, he had more surg­eries (five) than games played (three). When the play­ers cleaned out their lock­ers at Red­skins Park af­ter the sea­son ended, Lau­vao showed up on a scooter, still un­able to walk on his own.

The big­gest les­son Lau­vao learned was that there were two ways he could han­dle the sit­u­a­tion: sulk or push through.

“Do you fo­cus on the prob­lem, or do you fo­cus on so­lu­tions?” Lau­vao said. “For me, per­son­ally, that’s what it was. I think just go­ing through it, you’re ei­ther try­ing to sur­vive or thrive.”

Lau­vao said it is com­mon for in­jured play­ers to be­come dif­fi­cult to get along with and dis­ori­ented be­cause of how much they put into the game, hop­ing to re­ceive the same out­put in re­turn.

“There’s a per­cep­tion of the game, and there’s the real­ity,” Lau­vao said. “A lot of times for a lot of guys, it’s hard for a lot of them to do self-eval­u­a­tion — look in the mir­ror and ask the hard ques­tions.

“The game is not a per­son,” he said. “It’s just a thing. A lot of guys, they pour a lot into the game think­ing it’s go­ing to love ’em back, but it’s just a thing. It’s not go­ing to love you back. I think if you can [un­der­stand] that, you’ll be in a bet­ter place than be­fore.”

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