Haynesworth fiasco looks bad on coach

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Mike Shanahan is in danger of winning the battle, but losing the war, before the first live ammo is even fired in this NFL season.

The Washington Redskins coach may have backed himself into a corner in his battle of one-upmanship with defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth.

While there can be no arguing that Shanahan had to bring Haynesworth into line and show the entire team that he was the boss, his continuing petty war not to let Haynesworth practise until he completes a conditioning drill could backfire. This is a team that badly needs to get its act together, not engage in civil unrest.

Shanahan already had the upper hand before camp began when he and management ignored Haynesworth’s mini-camp holdout and trade demand. Haynesworth’s pout didn’t get him what he wanted.

Now Shanahan’s powerplay isn’t likely to get him what he wants — a compliant and contrite Haynesworth.

Shanahan doesn’t need to elevate his stature. Those Super Bowls have taken care of that. He does need Haynesworth to feel part of this team and this standoff is becoming a pointless exercise that is delaying the need for some team-building.

The Redskins need Haynesworth to perform like an All-Pro. They need him to play like a $100-million man. They need him to want to play, not just show up so he can collect his paycheque which is what is happening now.

The Redskins had four wins in 2009, haven’t won an NFC title since 1991 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. The only way that changes is if Haynesworth plays to his potential.

Shanahan made his point on Day 1 when Haynesworth showed up. He was made to look silly. Even some teammates sided with management. Linebacker London Fletcher reportedly said Haynesworth “can’t be depended on,” while teammate Phillip Daniels claimed “he really turned his back on us.”

Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said on radio that the defensive tackle “offers nothing as a person, as a player, as a teammate.” Big ouch!

But then it should’ve ended; instead, the battle of wills has degenerated into stubborness. It’s possible that Haynesworth won’t meet the standard in running the two 300-yard conditioning drills soon. And, now, if Shanahan simply lets Haynesworth back, it will appear as though he’s lost his resolve.

Fortunately, there may be a way for both to save face.

Haynesworth hasn’t even tried the conditioning test the past couple of days because of a sore knee. Yesterday word came that the complaints were legitimate and that he would undergo an MRI.

Shanahan, if there is no serious injury, could cite the knee problem and let Haynesworth back into practice without completing the conditioning drill.

Shanahan goes from looking like a persecuting git to diplomatic realist. The Redskins get what may still be their best defensive player back.

Maybe that way neither Shanahan nor Haynesworth win; but the Redskins might. And, isn’t that what it’s all supposed to be about?

Go, or no go

Brett Favre isn’t the only player who can’t decicde whether he’s coming or going.

“Sometimes I feel like I want to come back,” defensive end Leonard Little told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t. It’s a hard decision to make. I’ve been playing football since I was five years old.”

Now 35, he has played his entire 12-year career with the Rams, recording 61/2 sacks last season. Several clubs, including the Rams, are interested in using him as a situational pass rusher.

Riding shotgun

Suddenly, New England needs Logan Mankins more than the left guard needs the Patriots.

Mankins, the man who guards Tom Brady’s backside, has been holding out. The Patriots offered him $7 million US but Mankins declined the offer and asked to be traded, claiming club owner Robert Kraft was dishonest for not making good on his word to take care of him with a new deal for playing out his existing contract at below-market value.

New England hasn’t gotten back to him, instead inserting Nick Kaczur into his spot.

But his apparent replacement has been hobbled with an undisclosed injury, believed to be groin-related.

That leaves the job of guarding the franchise’s most prized possession to Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell, a move that could cost the Patriots if Brady were to get run over by some Mack truck disguised as a defensive lineman. Maybe Mr. Kraft should pick up a telephone — because it doesn‚t make for happy endings when a quarterback has to spend most of his time in the pocket looking over his shoulder instead of downfield.

Reality check

Texans kicker Kris Brown wasn’t happy to see free agent Neil Rackers at mini-camp this summer. “To be quite honest, I was probably kind of a jerk to him,” Brown said. “I finally woke up and said, ‘Kris, what are you doing?’ My biggest obligation outside of this profession is what kind of an example I’m setting for my (three) children ... How would I expect them to handle it?”

Brown apologized and the two have developed a close relationship even though one of them won’t make the club. Brown is the last of the original Texans but made only 65.6% of his field goal attempts last season, a career low. Rackers was a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 and made 16 of 17 attempts for Arizona last season.

Both are confident that whoever loses the competition will get signed by another team. “If you’re going to tell me that neither Kris Brown nor I are among the best 32 kickers in this league, I tell you you’re crazy,” Rackers said.

Quick hits

Broncos’ Elvis Dumervil has suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will miss at least four months. Jarvis Moss is a candidate to step up at outside linebacker ... Jets’ second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse and sophomore Matt Slauson are battling for the vacancy created by the controversial release of nine-time Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca ... From the “Fat Alberts” File: Tackle Ron Brace has reportedly failed to pass his conditioning drill and hasn’t been allowed to practise with the Patriots. In Denver, a similar situation faces nose tackle Jamal Williams ... Lions’ rookie Ndamukong Suh apologized to teammates for missing the opening of training camp while his agent finished negotiating his contract.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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