With H'worth gone, Shanahan is Redskins' big name
ASHBURN, Va. (AP)
Time to roll the opening credits for the 2011 Washington Redskins, with a new name above the title.
These are now, unquestionably, Mike Shanahan's Redskins. Three busy days of cuts, signings and trades have made the coach the star of the show - and molded the team more to the his liking as he begins his second training camp in Washington.
Whether the result is a better won-loss record remains to be seen, but there probably will be less drama than last year, when the sagas of McNabb and Haynesworth - and occasionally Portis - overshadowed just about everything the two-time Super Bowl champion coach tried to do to put his stamp on the team.
''I thought last year and years previous, we talked too much about individuals that have problems with the organization and stuff like that,'' Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo said, ''instead of trying to go out there and perform well. It just harps on you at times, and it's something that we need to do this year - forget about all the nonsense and negativity and just focus as a team. That's what the great teams do.''
The players officially reported to camp Thursday to take their physicals and hunker down for a full slate of meetings, with the first practice set for Friday morning. Those rituals seemed absolutely mundane compared to the nonstop comings and goings of faces old and new.
The early morning news was Haynesworth had been traded to the New England Patriots for a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, a mere pittance for a two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman with a $100 million contract. Some sort of move was inevitable - there was no way Haynesworth was going to be able to return after a yearlong feud with Shanahan that climaxed with a four-game suspension for insubordination.
Nor was there room for McNabb, who was traded to the Minnesota Vikings late Wednesday for a sixth-round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional sixth-round selection in 2013. While Haynesworth was inherited by Shanahan, McNabb was the coach's own mistake, a veteran quarterback who never looked comfortable and was benched for the final three games of the season.
Shanahan then unleashed a veteran purge, releasing 38-year-old defensive end Phillip Daniels, 33-year-old center Casey Rabach, 32-year-old nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu and 30-year-old receiver Roydell Williams. Punter Sam Paulescu and running backs Chad Simpson and Andre Brown also were sent packing. The 29-year-old Portis was let go in February, before the NFL lockout began.
''Going younger and had enough depth,'' Rabach said in a text message when asked what the Redskins told him.
On the verge of being added to the fold were free agents Stephen Bowen, Chris Chester and Sav Rocca. Defensive end Bowen, who has played five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, is expected to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract on Friday, when veteran free agents are allowed to formally join their new teams. Bowen's deal includes $12.5 million in guaranteed money.
Offensive lineman Chester is expected to don a Redskins jersey after five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He's set to sign a five-year contract worth $20 million.
Rocca is the 37-year-old Australian punter who has spent the last four years with the Philadelphia Eagles. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt last season, with a 39-yard net average.
The Redskins also negotiated throughout the day with their 12 draft picks, and it appeared most if not all would be signed in time for the first practice. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the No. 16 overall pick from Purdue, agreed to terms late in the day, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because contract had not yet been signed.
The team did announce the signing of three undrafted rookies: Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, North Carolina running back Shaun Draughn and East Carolina offensive lineman Willie Smith.
Because the veteran free agents can't sign their deals until Friday at 6 p.m. - and then can't practice until Aug. 4 under the post-lockout rules - it will be a far from complete squad that takes to the field for the inaugural camp practice bright and early Friday.
''It's crazy,'' linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. ''We couldn't imagine trying to learn this defense in five, 10 days. But every team has to deal with it.''
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP