Travis LaBoy brought 23½ career sacks with him when he signed with the 49ers on Apr. 20. But the sixth-year NFL veteran and Marin Catholic High graduate hasn’t been much of a factor on the practice field so far.
Still rehabbing the torn tendons in his left foot that cause him to miss the entire 2009 season while a member of the Arizona Cardinals, LaBoy has been taking part in position drills during offseason OTAs (voluntary practices), but has seen almost no time in 11-on-11 team period.
That changed this morning, when he found himself in the mix at outside linebacker. LaBoy said after practice that he’s been feeling good, and doesn’t expect to come away too sore from today’s activity.
“Usually by the end of the week. But today I’ll be fine,” he said. “Tomorrow we get a little break, so that helps out. I’ll be all right. I don’t really have very many ill effects.”
LaBoy knows he is battling more than teammates Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks and (eventually) Manny Lawson for playing time. He is also fighting against the perception that he is damaged goods. He has never played 16 games in an NFL season, and hasn’t played at all since Week 15 of the 2008 season. LaBoy doesn’t believe he has anything to prove.
“Everyone in this league gets hurt,” he said. “There’s only a few players in this league that have played every single game. For me, being out last season, that’s a whole different length of injury. So you miss a whole year with injury, yeah, I’d like to battle back and maybe kind of reestablish myself as a player. But other than that, you know, you just play through what comes your way.”
This could be a time of opportunity for LaBoy, with Lawson staying away from voluntary sessions, but the lingering foot injury has kept him back. The linebacker has kept his nose in the playbook, though that’s only half the equation.
“You can get so much from the playbook, but translating the playbook to on the field, it’s totally two different things,” he said. “Recognizing keys on the field and making plays, that’s really what it all comes down to, because if you don’t know the playbook and can’t make a play, it don’t really matter. Translating the playbook is the main thing. You can’t do that without field reps.”