Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan isn't just conditioning DE Albert Haynesworth's body. He's conditioning Albert Haynesworth's, and the entire team's, mind by insisting that Big Al pass the conditioning test. So writes ESPN's Adam Clayton is his article Shanahan shows he's in total control.
Haynesworth failed to complete the mandatory conditioning test in the required time on his attempts Thursday and Friday. He gets another shot today.
Shanahan's actions must have a similar impact on Danny Snyder and Vinny Cerrato. Shanny's hammer has fallen hardest on players selected and once touted by those gentlemen.
Haynesworth got a message from Shanahan and skipped the off-season activities for his own workout. Not good. Clinton Portis got a message from Shanahan, for whom he played and disputed in Denver, and participated in the off-season with more effort than he did for Jim Zorn and Joe Gibbs. Either or both receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas could be displaced by senior citizens. Ladell Betts, once assessed as a starting-caliber rusher, dumped and not on any team's roster.
Yup. Quite a message. Hard on players, owners and front office minions. And hard on Shanahan if he doesn't win.
Clayton made three other observations about the Redskins.
Donovnan McNabb is a good fit for the Redskins offense. He's athletic, accurate and Shanahan's call for five and seven step drops means McNabb can buy time for plays to develop. That's one way to adapt to a line with question marks.
Are the receivers good enough? Clayton didn't come out and say "no," but he suspects we'll see more two tight end sets to take advantage of Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. Draw your own conclusions. Mine is that Kelly and Thomas won't be much better than they have been. That makes them better than Brandon Lloyd, but not as good as Rod Gardner, who was much derided by the time he left the team.
Will the switch to the 3-4 defense work? Switching to the 3-4 usually requires transition time, but Clayton points out that the Chargers, Cowboys and Packers made that transition smoothly. The Redskins could be next, thanks to Albert Haynesworth and nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu.
Smooth transitions are to be observed, not predicted. The Redskins success with the 3-4 hinges on the health of Kemoeatu who weighs in at 350 pounds. Back-up nose tackle Kedric Golston is a lightweight at 310 pounds. If Kemoeatu can't go, it's bad news for the Skins if Golston steps in on a regular basis. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will want Haynesworth at nose tackle instead.
Which brings us back to conditioning Haynesworth's mind.
Points After: QB Sam Bradford signed his deal with the Rams Friday night. Now it's safe for Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb to work out contract extensions with their teams. None of these gentlemen would want, nor do they deserve, to be paid less than a rookie. Their signings should fall like dominoes next week.
Fred Davis made a poor first impression with the Redskins last year by over-sleeping for an OTA. Now he's seen as a key cog in the offense and nobody mentions that screw-up. Keep that in mind for this episode with Haynesworth. It's likely to have a similar ending. Fairness demands that I point out that Davis was a Cerrato pick.