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Lions center Frank Ragnow optimistic about ability to play through 'inoperable' toe injury in 2023

Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow played through a painful toe injury nearly all of last season -- and there apparently is no surgical fix for it.

Ragnow plans to soldier on, he told, and play this season. He's taking things slowly in his return, and despite the lack of (non-experimental) surgical options, Ragnow sounds optimistic that he can avoid enduring the same level of pain he did last season.

"Coming along," Ragnow said on Thursday. "We're good. We're being smart with it though. We're not rushing and making sure I get enough rest, because last season was one to forget in terms of that. It was brutal. So, just trying to be smart with it."

Ragnow said the lack of "healthy tissue" in his left foot is the reason traditional procedures aren't options.

"It's a deal where it's kind of inoperable, so it's something we're trying to navigate," Ragnow said. "But hopefully it's not going to be anything near the altitude of last year, where it was, like, brutal. ... There's no healthy tissue left, so it would have to be an experimental procedure to get that done. And that's not something NFL offensive linemen are in the business of (trying)."

The injury, which Ragnow described as "the most severe degree of turf toe," resulted from multiple plantar plate tears in his left foot. The first one occurred in Week 4 of the 2021 season, which required surgery and ended his season.

But after aggravating the same injury on the first series of the 2022 season, Ragnow opted to play through the pain. Although he barely practiced last season and suffered major pain when he played, Ragnow missed only one game. He was even named to the Pro Bowl for his efforts.

The Lions hope Ragnow is right about his optimism. He's one of the leaders of a good Lions offensive line for a team many think could be ready to take a big step forward in 2023.

"The guy is a (expletive) warrior," left guard Jonah Jackson said of Ragnow. "He's the anchor to our offense. He's everything we embody as an offense, as an organization."

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