Sunday, August 01, 2010

Redskins Training Camp Day Three: When Your Setback Has a Setback

First I was like go then I was like no

Saturday 31 July 2010 | Forty-three days until kickoff

Maybe too early to call it the downward spiral, maybe too early to call it a pissing contest, how else rationally to look at what is happening to defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth? After missing the entire offseason program, Albert failed the dual twelve increment, 300 yard shuttle runs Thursday and Friday and when he reported in Saturday, talked to the coaches and decided not to take the test, it was first assumed that Albert would pass on his third time charm time to rest his legs. A couple of hours later we discovered the real ostensible reason, a swollen knee.

So he did not take the test. Do you know what that means?

More trashcans. More sideline time with high level coaches that should be dealing with issues larger than Albert. More time for this story to fester and another step toward it becoming the caricature of Redskins 2010 training camp. It means Albert has missed three days of work with teammates and five practices. Nota bene: If things work out well and the Redskins have a good season it will be an awkward situation that worked itself out for the benefit of the team.

Making matters worse of course is now that the media smells a story they are all over it, here Dan Dan the Sports Bog Man finds DC FOX 5's Lindsay Murphy trying the test, she passed the first part and failed the second part, and former Washington Post and current Comcast SportsNet's Ivan Carter passing it with relative ease. Forget that neither Lindsay, maybe 110 pounds with her briefcase, nor Ivan, a former St. Olaf's Division III football receiver (PDF), would have been timed like a defensive lineman for this drill, at 70 and 73.

If things do not then this is head coach Mike Shanahan's slip and slide. Lucky for coach Shanahan that Titans coach Jeff Fisher walked in quietly and said I'll just leave this here.

As is often the case with Redskins training camp, other things happened besides Albert not taking or passing a test. Quarterback Donovan McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, visited Ashburn and expounded upon heretofore ephemeral plans to do a contract extension, Dono's current deal expires after this season and irrelevant of the trade terms, those two draft picks, a second rounder and a third or fourth rounder, it would be a tragedy to see Dono depart after on year.

As you might expect, Dono's agent said Dono wanted to stay in Washington for years to come blah blah blah and a deal would get done in due time (op. cit.). I wonder if the reference in the Washington Post Redskins Insider piece to the agent being escorted off the field by a Redskins public relations rep means the team was treating Dono's agent like a VIP, or if they were collaring him to keep from negotiating in the media.

Back not long after Dono came here there was some discussion about the extension and why it could not happen immediately, as the Redskins are wont to do, I would assume the team braintrust an exact idea of what they want to pay Dono, and irrespective of any league rules on collusion that the team and agent are all good on this matter.

I remember reading somehwere, and I am unable to find a reference now, that due to the timing of Dono's last contract renegotiation in Philadelphia that he would be ineligible for a second contract renegotiation in the same calendar year. I have not read this in mainstream reporting that I have perused and I wonder if this is a league rules constraint that no one wants to talk about for some reason. Any lurkers out there that can drop a comment or shoot me a note with a hard reference to this rule, I will put you on the front page.

Dono was also the subject of an enterprise profile in Sunday's Washington Post, in his first season in Washington Donovan is seeking to present himself as hungry and capable as he ever was in Philadelphia, he is a pretty well put together operation and has managed to capture a difficult to bottle essence among top drawer established athletes and that is a student of a particular type of competitive spirit that seeks to lift all those around him, even when it means he will draw personal criticism. Washington area sports fans have not had a player like this since Cal Ripken.

Speaking of quarterbacks, there are four on the roster now, Dono, Rex Grossman, Colt Brennan and late 2009 signee Richard Bartel. It would seem historically that Mike Shanahan prefers to go with two quarterbacks on the roster, meaning a problem for two guys currently on staff. The rules of the practice squad dictate who can be on it, and the politics dictate that if a guy was truly good another team would claim him.

In the immediate term all four are probably safe, one thing that former head coach Jim Zorn was very upfront about was the need for quote camp arms unquote, there is so much happening on a full team practice field that even three quarterbacks is not enough arm to feed the beast.

In the longer term though, likely by first cuts, both Richard and Colt should be concerned. We know nothing about Richard Bartel and Colt Brennan is an undersized freespirit chucker with an emerging pattern of injury. That Colt and Richard are camp roommates is all you need to know about the grim realities of NFL life below the line.

Over in the world of receivers, third year second round pick Malcolm Kelly is still watching his career stall with a hamstring injury (op. cit.), suffered in Hell Week three weeks ago in Arizona with Donovan McNabb, Malcolm was on the sideline getting one on one attention and not with his teammates for the early practice Saturday.

As with Albert Haynesworth it is still too early to say Malcolm is circling the drain, here are the facts: Malcolm is not coach Shanahan's draft pick; Malcolm has underperformed in two seasons with the Redskins; there are eleven receivers on the roster which means coach Shanahan is serious about competition; every rep Malcolm misses is a rep someone else gets. Add it all up and if Malcolm's hammy does not brighten up this week... dot dot dot...

The afternoon practice was a quote jog through unquote, Mike Shanahan's first training camp is shaping up to be hard charging morning sessions followed by lighter non contact work in the afternoons.

Washington Post Training Camp Tracker: Defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, the 2009 third round pick in the supplemental draft was thought not to be a factor in the 2009 season, saw action late in the year and like about everyone else in Washington last season had a serious injury, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Jeremy is back and has put on twenty pounds, now at 295 pounds and is projecting as a defensive end rather than a linebacker in the new 3-4 defensive scheme. How this is all going to work with none of these players accustomed to playing in a 3-4 and players floating between positions... I trust Jim Haslett and these guys know what they are doing.

Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, possible player Albert Haynesworth and defensive line coach Jacob Burney: AP photo from here.