Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan gives nothing away when it comes to game plans and roster moves. But, we have seen enough of the man to know that Tiki Barber will not be showing up on FedEx Field in a burgundy jersey to replace RB Tim Hightower.
I could not say that with such certainty if Vinny Cerrato and Joe Gibbs ran the team. Gibbs traded a third-round pick to Atlanta for running back T.J. Duckett when Clinton Portis was injured preseason 2006. Gibbs described Duckett as an insurance policy and kept him on the shelf for little productive use that year. What a waste of both player and Draft pick.
Washington filled the open roster spot with OL Maurice Hurt when Hightower went to the Injured Reserve list. A second spot will open when Chris Cooley formally joins the IR list this week.
Culture change has to happen in the front office before it reaches the locker room.
Shanahan had his big name adventure with Donovan McNabb, which turned out embarrassingly bad for player and coach. We can safely guess that Shanny will not reach for Barber as an insurance policy to backfill Hightower.
The Redskins will get as much out of Evan Royster this season as they would from Barber who is long past his 2005 performance. (That won't stop some silly fans from expecting Barber to take up immediately where he left off should anyone sign him.) Promoting Royster to the active roster now will pay off for the Redskins in 2012 and beyond more than Barber.
The fly in the ointment for both Shanahan and Royster is Rex Grossman's speed of recovery from pneumonia. Shanahan deliberately chose to go with two quarterbacks on the roster to free up space for an extra receiver. It seemed a good risk at the time. The Redskins are down to John Beck with a fill-in by WR Terrence Austin until Grossman's return to good health.
If the medical staff says Grossman needs an extra week or two, Shanahan might rent a quarterback for that period before promoting Royster. The Redskins might bring Kellen Clemons back, or might tap Trent Edwards, the former Bills quarterback to mine his knowledge of Buffalo's playbook before this weekend's game. It's a time-honored NFL tradition.
If Edwards were an option, he would be here by now.
Don't be surprised if the Redskins and other teams quietly work out Terrell Owens to get a better assessment of his knee than the staged event Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, put on yesterday. It is due diligence. The Redskins would be derelict in duty if they did not check Owens out...and sign him if (Heaven forbid) something unfortunate happened to veterans Jabar Gaffney or Donte' Stallworth.
If it comes to that, just don't expect Owens to play at his 2004 level. Owens has a lot of stats, but never won a title. The 2004 season was as close as he or the Philadelphia Eagles got to a Super Bowl win this century. Owens said he wished he handled his notorious Eagles situation differently.
"I would go back in the Philly situation and probably go in and talk to Andy Reid and try to hash some of those things out," Owens said in an ESPN interview. "But there was so much said about the fact that it was me and Donovan, me against Donovan. I never had one gripe about Donovan."
Um, yeah. Owens neglected to mention that it was he doing a lot of that talking, with comments directed at Reid through the media rather than to him. McNabb was his "Mom likes you best" foil.
The incident left Owens the most reviled man in football until Michael Vick. He is still a pariah today. The one upside of Mike Shanahan's misadventure with Albert Haynesworth is that coach can take a risk with ego-bruised Owens and have it work for a season.
When it comes to developing young receivers, though, Santana Moss is a far better influence in the locker room.
Bottom line: Enough of the big names from other teams. Don't want them. Can't win with them. Develop the young talent already here.