NFC East: Albert Haynesworth

The Albert smear campaign continues

September, 5, 2010
It's not that I feel sorry for Albert Haynesworth or anything, but the well-orchestrated campaign against him from within the Washington Redskins organization is starting to get old. On Saturday night, the Washington Post once again delivered a scathing report about Haynesworth based on anonymous sources who claimed the defensive tackle was "awful" in Thursday's preseason finale.

I guess it's really shocking news that Haynesworth would not put forth maximum effort in a fourth preseason game when 31 of his teammates were not in uniform. There are major leaks coming from this coaching staff and I don't get the sense that coach Mike Shanahan's trying to identify the source. But all of this seems like overkill to me. It's not like the coaches need to build a case against Haynesworth. He spent the entire offseason indicting himself.

Now the Post is reporting that it's unlikely Haynesworth will start against the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday. I guess this is supposed to be compelling theater, but it's starting to seem redundant to me. The Seattle Seahawks dumped an expensive player in T.J. Houshmandzadeh on Saturday and the Redskins should've done the same thing with Haynesworth.

As I've predicted for months, they'll likely end up deactivating him on a permanent basis at some point this season. If you're going to sit around and act shocked by a man's poor performance in a preseason finale, then go ahead and release him.

At first, some of us praised Shanahan for showing Haynesworth who's boss. But as the regular season looms, Shanahan and the organization's anonymous sources are looking pettier by the day. Maybe we should hold some of them accountable for their role in this mess.

Now let's brace ourselves for the next Haynesworth report. I shudder to think what we'll read if he has a poor practice Monday.

Albert Haynesworth goes the distance

September, 3, 2010
Let's take a quick look at what folks are saying about the Redskins' 20-10 loss in Arizona:
  • Paul Tenorio of the Post thinks the diminutive Brandon Banks may have sealed his fate with yet another fumble during a return. I've been pulling for the 5-6 Banks out of Kansas State, but he's just been too inconsistent. Hopefully he'll end up on the practice squad.

Could Albert Haynesworth miss Week 1?

September, 1, 2010
PM ET's Jason La Canfora, a former Redskins beat man for The Post, delivered an interesting nugget Wednesday regarding Albert Haynesworth's status for the opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 12. Citing an anonymous Skins source, La Canfora reported that Haynesworth is "far from assured" a starting spot against the Cowboys. Then La Canfora took the report to another level:

"Haynesworth could be deactivated for the Redskins' Week 1 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, the source surmised, as coach Mike Shanahan continues to sort through what has been a troubling offseason with the high-priced defensive lineman," writes La Canfora.

Unless Haynesworth is injured or being punished, I don't see any reason why the Redskins would play him in a preseason game and then turn around and sit him in the first game of the regular season. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think there's a good possibility Haynesworth comes off the bench against the Cowboys, but it's hard for me to believe he would be inactive for the game.

Redskins-Jets: What did we learn?

August, 28, 2010
Against all odds, it appears that Albert Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan have made nice -- at least for one evening. Haynesworth entered the game early in the first half and played some snaps with the starters. He even cracked a couple jokes in the postgame locker room.

"I'm going over to dinner at his house, probably tonight," Haynesworth said. "Gonna sit and have a cigar and talk."

The Skins beat the Jets, 16-11, an odd final score that was aided by a missed Nick Folk extra point. I didn't get to see the game, but we can still link to some folks who did:

Friday Beastlines: Eagles LBs squirming

August, 27, 2010
Let's go around the division to see what's happening this morning:


The latest on McNabb's injury

August, 24, 2010
You know it's ridiculous when Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb shows up to practice in an air cast -- and Albert Haynesworth is still the lead story. McNabb and fullback Mike Sellers (left leg) both sat out Monday's two practices and coach Mike Shanahan doesn't know if they'll play against the Jets on Friday.

"I really didn't know how bad it was," Shanahan said of McNabb's injury. "I still don't really know how bad it is. He's getting treatment. We'll just kind of figure it out day-by-day."

Something tells me that Shanahan has a pretty good idea "how bad" McNabb's injury is, but perhaps he doesn't want to elaborate at this point. Coaches aren't required to release an injury list in the preseason, so most of them aren't very forthcoming.

Video: Skins dealing with Haynesworth

August, 24, 2010

George Smith reports on the Redskins handling of Albert Haynesworth.

Shanahan's had enough Haynesworth talk

August, 23, 2010
If you were waiting for Mike Shanahan to angrily respond to Albert Haynesworth's latest rant, you're going to be disappointed. The Redskins head coach said the two met Monday, but he didn't want to elaborate on that conversation.

"If you guys want to talk about football, we'll talk about football," said Shanahan. "But to keep on talking about things outside of football to me is completely ridiculous. I did have a conversation with him. If you want to talk about football, we'll talk about football."

I'm not sure how the Haynesworth topic is "outside of football," but it's apparent that Shanahan's sick of the topic. Perhaps he and Haynesworth found some common ground Monday, but I have my doubts. This is a forced marriage that needs to end sooner than later. If Haynesworth's still on the roster in November, I'll be surprised.

Unfortunately, the Haynesworth story overshadowed a more significant development over the weekend. Safety Kareem Moore underwent knee surgery and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Moore had a tremendous camp and he was expected to start at free safety. The Redskins responded to the injury by quickly signing veteran safety Tyrone Carter.

We'll see if former starter Chris Horton can take advantage of this opportunity and play his way back in the lineup. I'm not sure why his stock has dropped so much since the start of the '08 season.

Monday Beastlines

August, 23, 2010
Let's take a quick look at the top headlines from around the division this morning:


Haynesworth won't win this staredown

August, 23, 2010
As I've said several times over the past couple months, I think the Redskins will eventually suspend Albert Haynesworth and allow him to not earn his money elsewhere. I guess we're supposed to have some sympathy for a man returning from a bout with rhabdomyolysis last week, but it's not easy to feel concern when you listen to Haynesworth whine about having to play in the third quarter of a preseason game.

In today's Washington Post, columnist Sally Jenkins does a nice job of explaining why coach Mike Shanahan's so hell-bent on upholding his rules. It's a good read for those of you who wonder why it's so hard for Shanahan to compromise.
"One thing Shanahan can't do for a player is prevent him from committing career suicide," writes Jenkins. "Haynesworth had a reputation as a terrible diva by the time he left the Tennessee Titans, and only the silliness of the Redskins owner brought him here at such a price and empowered him. We've all wanted to believe in a better Haynesworth, but it's become apparent that he is discontented and complaining, and is bent on ruining his value in the league. He's the worst cliché of a head case -- he demands respect instead of earns it, and lately he has cast himself as that most pitiable of things, a perpetual victim. We are supposed to see him as the casualty of the corporate machine, fighting to protect himself from the cold-hearted mechanistic coach, who tortures him with treadmills? Please."

Report: Haynesworth had rhabdomyolysis

August, 22, 2010
If you've never heard of that word, you're not alone. The Washington Post is reporting that Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was suffering from rhabdomyolysis last week, a condition that causes the rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle. Haynesworth played last night against the Ravens, so it's likely that he's no longer suffering from the condition, which is somewhat rare among professional athletes.



The Redskins have not confirmed that diagnosis and coach Mike Shanahan won't address the media until Monday. I've put a call into the world-famous Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas this afternoon to try and track down some more details on rhabdomyolysis. Here's what Dr. Lynne P. Yao of the National Kidney Foundation told the Post on Sunday:

"Rhabdomyolysis is basically a condition in which you have extensive muscle breakdown," said Dr. Yao. "It doesn't happen as often in well-conditioned athletes, but if there's really extreme circumstances -- like extremely hot weather -- than that could happen when you have large amounts of muscle breakdown."

This may explain why Haynesworth lashed out at Shanahan following Saturday's game. He seemed upset that Shanahan had described his condition as a "headache" leading up to the preseason game. In Shanahan's defense, maybe he was trying to protect Haynesworth's privacy. Or maybe these two men can't stand each other.

Rick Maese of the Post only has a few hours left on a pre-med degree after his work today. Here's something he added to the rhabdomyolysis research.

Update: Dr. Tyler Cooper, CEO of Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, on Haynesworth's condition:

"You see the condition with people who aren't used to working out in the heat. It can be very dangerous, and it's usually an isolated event. If he was properly hydrated and his blood enzymes were measured at a mild level, then it would be feasible to play in a game."


Time to send Albert Haynesworth packing?

August, 22, 2010
Can we all agree that things between Albert Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan are going to end badly? The latest dustup involves the All-Pro defensive lineman accusing Shanahan of underplaying his health issues this past week and then forcing him to -- gasp -- play in the third quarter of Saturday's preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

And for good measure, Haynesworth took the suspense out of the 2011 offseason by vowing to once again skip the Redskins' voluntary conditioning program. The club said Shanahan won't respond to Haynesworth's comments until Monday, which will give this thing time to build. The player was given the opportunity to clarify his medical condition, but he declined.

"You'll have to ask them, but I guess they'll tell you 'headaches' again," Haynesworth told reporters, emphasizing the word by holding his fingers in the air to simulate quotation marks. "It was part of it, but it wasn't all of it. They left out a whole lot of stuff."

Asked why the Redskins would provide misleading information regarding his condition, Haynesworth added, "I don't know. I guess make yourself look good, I don't know. Make me look bad for not going to their offseason conditioning program. But, I mean, next year I'm not coming either. I'll be on my trainer again, and I'll get back in the same shape I'm in, and feel good about myself."

I'm sorry, but now doesn't seem like the best time for Haynesworth to be touting his personal trainer. After this whole conditioning test fiasco, do you think guys around the league are clamoring for the trainer's number?

And what about the horror of asking Haynesworth to play with second and third-stringers in the second half? Zorny would've never resorted to this particular brand of humiliation.

"Third quarter. I'm a ninth-year pro," said Haynesworth following the game. "I don't think I should have been out there in the third quarter. But, for having 'headaches' again, that was what they wanted to do."

A player of Haynesworth's caliber should have contract language that states something like, "I should only have to line up next to players whose names sound vaguely familiar to me."

I still believe Shanahan's going to end up suspending Haynesworth at some point this season. An outright release would be playing into Haynesworth's hands, and it's hard to say whether the Redskins would be able to recoup any of the guaranteed money.

Honestly, Haynesworth should just save his breath on his 2011 offseason plans. There's a decent chance the owners will make it possible for every player in the league to avoid conditioning programs if there's a lockout.

It's about time for Shanahan to nip this thing in the bud. If Haynesworth's whining about his role in a preseason game, just think what will happen if he's not starting against Dallas on Sept. 12. I realize he's an immensely talented player, but he's threatening to undermine everything Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have accomplished this offseason. Maybe it's time to reunite Haynesworth with his beloved Nashville-based trainer.

I'd seriously think about sending the guy home. Either that or save him for the fourth quarter of the final two preseason games.

Cowboys' Kyle Kosier sprains knee

August, 18, 2010
OXNARD, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys' West Coast camp isn't going so well after another starting offensive lineman went down in practice Wednesday morning. Left guard Kyle Kosier sprained his knee and is expected to be out for four to six weeks, putting further stress on a banged-up offensive line.

Montrae Holland took over for Kosier in practice and Robert Brewster continues to work in Marc Colombo's right tackle spot.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett told a couple of us after practice that there's a possibility that Tony Romo might not play Saturday against the Chargers because of the injury-depleted line. Veteran Alex Barron also continues to miss practice with an ankle injury.

"We'll have those discussions," said Garrett. "We'll talk about that. We'll talk about that."

But when a local columnist asked if it's necessary for Romo to play again in the preseason, Garrett shot back: "Quarterbacks need to play. Quarterbacks need to play."

He said that practices can't prepare quarterbacks for the regular season like preseason games.

But back to the offensive line, it now looks like Holland will be the starting guard against the Redskins in Week 1. Somewhere, perhaps Ashburn, Va., Albert Haynesworth is smiling. Maybe he'll be the starter by then.
Donovan McNabbAP Photo/Alex BrandonWashington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb is still learning how to navigate the offense.
LANDOVER, Md. -- From the little things to the big moments, the soft opening of Mike Shanahan’s extreme makeover of the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Friday night had a whole new vibe.

In its preseason debut the new-look offense drubbed the Buffalo Bills, scoring 42 points -- this from a Redskins team that averaged only 16.6 points a game the past two years. During that span, only five teams in the league have been worse.

Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley -- who missed nine games last year with a broken ankle -- was back prowling the soft underbelly of the shallow secondary. And before the game, ageless middle linebacker London Fletcher gathered the whole team -- even the cantankerous Albert Haynesworth -- at midfield. No coaches, no cameras. Just a few words of encouragement, delivered with purpose: This year, let’s be a team.

And there in the middle of it all, anchoring the revitalized offense and attitude was No. 5, Donovan McNabb.

Let’s call it the “Five Vibe.”

"We haven’t had this kind of leadership from the quarterback position around here for a long time," said special teams coach Danny Smith, who is in his seventh season with the Redskins. "Now, if he can still play, we’ll be in great shape."

On Friday night, McNabb showed he can still play. For the first time in 12 years, he stepped onto a football field not wearing an Eagles uniform. As he walked up to the line of scrimmage for the first snap, McNabb hesitated for a moment and took in the whole surreal scene -- a career’s worth of old memories swimming around in his head.

"I thought to myself, ‘OK, this is it, this is real,’” said McNabb, whose first drive featured two passes that landed well off the mark. But he quickly shook off the early anxiousness.

The second possession resulted in a tidy 80-yard touchdown drive, including a 4-yard pass that young wide receiver Anthony Armstrong stretched across the goal line, giving the veteran quarterback his first taste of love from the burgundy and gold crowd -- and from the owner.

"He is special -- his form, his leadership," said Daniel Snyder, who popped up on the local broadcast of the game in the first quarter to add his stamp of approval. "He is the total package."

After a spotty summer performance in training camp by McNabb, perhaps Snyder felt the need to reassure the fan base. McNabb’s adjustment period has lingered longer than many in the Redskins’ organization had anticipated.

In fact, a week before the preseason game, McNabb was quoted as saying: "I would love to say I’m past it," suggesting that he’s not over the fact the Eagles traded him. "These guys have welcomed me as if I’ve been with the team for last couple of years and that’s what made this easier."

But Shanahan, for one, is not babying McNabb. He wants the learning curve to be quick. In the NFL, this whole rebuilding thing used to have a three-year shelf life. Not anymore. You get a year, maybe.

When asked before the game what he told McNabb about how to handle his debut in a Redskins uniform, Shanahan quickly shot back: "I don’t have to tell Donovan McNabb anything. He’s a veteran quarterback. He knows what to do."

Still, McNabb has needed an extensive instruction manual. After 11 years in Andy Reid’s offense, McNabb is trying to learn a new language -- and, early on, it showed. He frequently misfired during the spring and early summer in 11-on-11 drills, but has since become more comfortable.

"You’ve got remember," said former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, "that all the jargon is different, all the protection calls have new verbiage. He’s got all that swirling around in his head. He’s got to forget and remember at the same time. Not easy to do after you’ve been doing the same thing at this level for nearly a dozen years."

And the rest of the Redskins’ offense is adjusting to a remake of the offensive line, which includes a rookie left tackle -- first-round pick Trent Williams -- and a right tackle -- Jammal Brown -- who has not seen much of the field while he nurses a lingering hip injury.

Add the fact that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (Mike’s son) will be serving two masters. In Houston last year, Shanahan’s offense led the NFL with 4,654 passing yards. "Kyle’s system is different from the conventional West Coast offense," Theismann said. "He’s got the normal three- and five-step drop with that extra wrinkle to go deep."

But in Houston, Shanahan could call the deep ball and attack consistently because he had all-world wide receiver Andre Johnson. The Redskins will have to rely on veterans Joey Galloway and Santana Moss to stretch the field.

McNabb can deliver: 18 of the Eagles' 41 touchdown drives came in four plays or fewer.

But while the offensive coordinator will want to stretch the field, his father is rooted in the running game. Last year, the Redskins ran the ball only 40.3 percent of the time, the lowest in the last 11 years for this franchise. That kind of imbalance is not in Mike Shanahan’s DNA.

In fact, while the first-team offense was on the field Friday night, there were 10 called running plays and nine called passing plays. And McNabb’s favorite target was the tight end Cooley, who caught all three balls thrown his way.

An assistant coach said the last thing Shanahan wants is to put this whole season on the 33-year-old McNabb, who seems to be -- right now, at least -- auditioning for the long-term lead role here in Washington. Despite public pronouncements to the contrary, the Redskins and McNabb’s agent have not worked out a contract extension. So, McNabb is playing on a one-year deal.

"Both sides want to get a deal done," one of McNabb’s representatives said Friday.

But the McNabb camp is keeping an eye on the situation in Minnesota, where Brett Favre has one year left on his contract and where McNabb would no doubt love to be reunited with Brad Childress, who served as offensive coordinator in Philadelphia when McNabb had his breakout years with the Eagles. Favre’s departure, whenever that happens, also will drive up McNabb’s price. Why you would want to leave a two-time Super Bowl champion head coach, however, is anybody’s guess.

For now McNabb is healthy and seems very content. He doesn’t have to carry too heavy of a load and doesn’t have to think too far in advance. Just provide the vibe. Set the tone. Navigate the offense. Fletcher will handle the defense. And Shanahan will keep everybody in line (see: Haynesworth, Albert).

"I don’t have to do anything special," said McNabb. "I just have to be me."

For the Redskins in this rebuilding year, that should be enough. After that, who knows?

Sal Paolantonio covers the NFL for ESPN. His latest book is “How Football Explains America” (Chicago: Triumph).

Good first impression for Redskins

August, 14, 2010
It's just one preseason game, but on Friday night, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and his quarterback, Donovan McNabb, made a favorable impression on a fan base starving for success. I thought McNabb looked more comfortable in a 42-17 win against the Buffalo Bills than he has in training camp practices. He and Rex Grossman made enough plays in the passing game to stake the Skins to a big lead. Now, here are few observations:
  • McNabb was 5-of-8 for 58 yards and a touchdown. He hooked up with Anthony Armstrong for a 4-yard touchdown pass. McNabb and Chris Cooley already have a nice chemistry. McNabb loves to use the tight end, as we saw with Brent Celek in Philadelphia. McNabb knows that if he can hit Cooley in stride, the tight end can pick up some yards after the catch. McNabb seemed to have a good command of Shanahan's offense -- especially for this early in the preseason. And he's going to love the fact that Shanahan's hell-bent on establishing the running game.
  • I was impressed with Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams in this game. Shanahan should do everyone a favor and release Willie Parker now, because there's no place for him on this roster. Torain runs a little high for my taste, but I was impressed by the way he set up his blocks. He maneuvered very well between the tackles. Williams launches his body through the slightest hole. I thought he had an excellent performance on his 11 carries for 51 yards.
  • The 3-4 defense is a work in progress, but there were some good signs against the Bills. Albert Haynesworth entered the game in the second quarter and held his own at nose tackle. And he even had some nice things to say about Jim Haslett's defense after the game. I think the secondary will benefit from the 3-4 in a big way. DeAngelo Hall had an interception that set up a touchdown. Haslett's bringing pressure from everywhere, and that's not something we've seen with the Redskins since Gregg Williams was around.
  • Cornerback Ramzee Robinson's making his case to stay on the roster. He made an excellent play to down a punt at the Bills' 1-yard line.
  • Brandon Banks had a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. He might be one of those special talents who Shanahan has a difficult time releasing. I'm not sure he helps you in the passing game this season, but I'd stick the guy out there on returns and let him do his thing. He's not as thick as fellow Kansas State return man/running back Darren Sproles, but he's probably a bit faster.
  • Shanahan had to be happy with Devin Thomas' performance after his initial bobble. Grossman threw him a wonderful pass on the 44-yard touchdown, but I love how Thomas snatched the ball and never broke stride. Now maybe he can start climbing up the depth chart.
  • Trent Williams held up fine at left tackle. He said he was a little nervous, but he played through the jitters. His footwork was really impressive. I think the Skins are in business at his spot for the next 10 years or so. And it really helps to have Chris Samuels giving Williams some feedback. I can't think of a better mentor. Offensive line looked pretty solid to me.
  • I thought rookie linebacker Perry Riley out of LSU had a rough time in the second half. I kept seeing him overpursue running plays.
  • Tight end Lee Vickers continues to impress me. Not a flashy tight end by any means, but he'll make tough catches. And he appears to be a solid blocker. I watched Grossman fire balls to Vickers in team drills in Ashburn, Va., and I just think he could be a valuable part of the team.
  • This secondary plays with so much more confidence right now -- especially when Ryan Fitzpatrick's playing quarterback. One negative: Safety Anderson Russell has to come up with the play when he's the last line of defense. He allowed a Bills running back to bounce off him in the second half. He took a really poor angle toward the runner. That will not be a fun film session for Russell.