Cumberland Times-News

Football

July 29, 2011

Redskins’ Shanahan stakes ‘reputation’ in QB plan

— ASHBURN, Va. — Mike Shanahan isn’t shying away from it. He’s knows his stature as a coach is in play with his plan to go with John Beck and Rex Grossman as his quarterbacks in his second season with the Washington Redskins.

Shanahan addressed his quarterback situation and numerous other issues — including the departures of Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth — on Friday evening in his first meeting with reporters since the end of the NFL lockout.

Near the top of the list: Votes of confidence in Beck and Grossman, who have combined for four NFL starts over the last three seasons. Beck hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2007.

“You talk about a guy not being experienced — I believe in the guys,” Shanahan said. “I believe in ‘em. And I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I put my reputation on these guys that they can play.”

Beck and undrafted rookie Ben Chappell were the only quarterbacks on the field Friday morning at the first practice of training camp. Grossman is a free agent, but the team plans to re-sign him to compete for the starting job.

“John’s done a good job on the first day of practice. I don’t want to put him in the Pro Bowl yet, but he’s close,” said Shanahan, who then quickly added: “It’s a joke.”

As for McNabb, Shanahan gave some hints as to what when wrong after the Redskins traded two draft picks to Philadelphia for the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback a year ago.

“We were hoping he would fit into our system,” Shanahan said. “I told Donovan when he came in here, I said: ‘Hey, here are the reasons why I think Philly did not sign you’ — they were going to go with (Kevin) Kolb — ‘this is what you’re going to have to do to stay on our football team for a number of years. If you do that, I think you’ve got a chance to go to the Pro Bowl and do the things you’ve been doing throughout your career.’ It didn’t work out.”

McNabb was benched twice during the 6-10 season and was demoted to third string for the final three games. Shanahan said he gave McNabb’s agent permission to negotiate with any team, and this week they worked out a trade with Minnesota.

“I think Donovan has a great future ahead of him — if he decides to do the little things that he needs to do to get to the next level,” said Shanahan, who then declined to elaborate on what those “little things” are.

As for Haynesworth, Shanahan had no plans to bring back the disgruntled two-time All-Pro who was suspended for the final four games of last season. Haynesworth was shipped to New England this week for little return — a 2013 fifth-round draft pick.

“He wasn’t going to come to our camp. Thankfully, we did get a trade,” Shanahan said. “We were releasing him if we didn’t trade him.”

Shanahan discussed the players the Redskins added this week during an extraordinarily compressed period of free agency. It got so busy that the coach pulled a Joe Gibbs on Thursday night and spent the night in his Redskins Park office.

The Redskins re-signed receiver Santana Moss and signed defensive tackle Barry Cofield, receiver Donte’ Stallworth, cornerback Josh Wilson, quarterback Kellen Clemens, defensive end Stephen Bowen, guard Chris Chester and punter Sav Rocca. All agreed to terms earlier in the week, but they couldn’t sign their contracts before Friday at 6 p.m. under the NFL’s post-lockout rules.

Shanahan said the Redskins were proactive because they needed to improve in “a lot of different areas.” The makeover is also part of the coach’s effort to shape the feel of the team more to his liking.

“The one great thing going into your second year, you get to evaluate everybody,” he said, “and put your football team together, the type of personalities that you think fit into your type of mindset.”

One notable name absent from the list of incoming players is receiver Brandon Stokley, who decided not to join the Redskins after initially agreeing to a deal. Shanahan said he suggested that Stokley pursue other options after Washington acquired Jabar Gaffney in a trade with Denver.

About 60 players were on the field for the first practice, or roughly two-thirds of the number allowed under the new rules. The incoming veteran free agents won’t be allowed to practice until Aug. 4 — assuming a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified.

The Redskins did have all 12 draft picks signed and present, including first-round linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who agreed to terms late Thursday. Kerrigan, however, hyperextended a knee during the morning practice. An MRI was negative, but he has a bone bruise and is expected to be sidelined for a few days.

Beck, meanwhile, was getting all the first-team snaps, repetition after repetition, with Chappell mopping up the rest.

“Having this week where I do get the majority of the reps, I’m lovin’ it,” Beck said. “Because I want all those reps. Because reps for me equal experience, and experience helps me win.”

Notes: S LaRon Landry, S Kareem Moore and LB Robert Henson were placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Landry has been nursing Achilles’ tendon, shoulder and wrist injuries. He said the shoulder and wrist are OK, but he’s playing it safe with the leg. “Just want to make sure it’s strong enough to endure the whole season,” he said. Moore and Henson are recovering from knee injuries. ... Players wore shorts for the morning practice, but that did little to counter the oppressive heat that was settling in. Shanahan said five players needed IVs afterward. ... The Redskins also re-signed CB Byron Westbrook.

 

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