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Shanahan let down 'big time' by suspended Redskins

By Joseph White
AP Sports Writer / December 7, 2011
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ASHBURN, Va.—No sugarcoating from Mike Shanahan, not when he's been let down like this.

The Washington Redskins coach said Wednesday he's disappointed "big time" in suspended players Fred Davis and Trent Williams and that both will have to prove themselves in order to be a part of the team's future.

Tight end Davis and left tackle Williams -- the team's leader in receptions and the offense's marquee lineman -- began the day by apologizing at a team meeting. Both were suspended Tuesday without pay for four games -- the rest of the regular season -- by the NFL for repeated violations of the league's substance abuse policy.

"You're talking about accountability," Shanahan said, "people being there through thick and thin. And when you don't do that, there's not really anything you can say except `I screwed up.' And they were men enough today to stand in front of the team and say, `Hey, I did screw up, and we promise it won't happen again.'

"Now we will find out in the future if they're true to their word."

It's one thing to be caught once, but Davis and Williams are multiple offenders who had previously been fined by the NFL, ordered to undergo counseling and received a good talking-to from a coach who puts a premium on discipline. Not only will the struggling offense for a 4-8 team have to find way to make do without the pair for the balance of the season, but the Redskins will also have to plan around the fact that each will likely be suspended for a year if there's another positive test.

"Am I disappointed in them? Big time, yeah," Shanahan said. "Because they affect not only themselves but this organization and their teammates. That's a bad decision, and they know they put us in a heck of a position."

Williams was Shanahan's first draft pick with the Redskins, the No. 4 overall selection a year ago, and it's likely he will get another chance at redemption if only because he's has four years remaining on a six-year, $60 million contract. Davis' status is murky because he's due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He's played well -- 59 catches for 796 yards -- but his value on the open market has just plummeted.

"Any contract that anybody would sign somebody to, knowing that with one failed test they could be gone just like that," said Shanahan, snapping his fingers, "they're going to protect themselves in the contract, and it'll be based on performance and based on going down the straight and narrow."

Shanahan said he is seeking clarification as to whether Davis and Williams will be allowed to be at the Redskins Park facility throughout their suspensions under the terms of the league's new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union. Neither player has spoken publicity since the punishments have been announced, and neither was in the locker room Wednesday during the period when it was open to reporters.

"They feel bad enough," quarterback Rex Grossman said. "It's a tough situation, and they know they made a mistake. They know they have to pay some pretty harsh consequences."

One consequence for the Redskins is that they will have their sixth different starting offensive line in nine weeks when they host the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Shanahan said Sean Locklear, a veteran who is more of a natural right tackle, and undrafted rookie Willie Smith, who has yet to play in an NFL game, are rotating snaps at left tackle in practice to determine who will start.

As for tight end, Chris Cooley is already done for the season with a knee injury, so Logan Paulsen has completed a move from third-string to starter. Dominique Byrd, who was signed by the Redskins on Oct. 26 and released on Nov. 8, was re-signed Wednesday to fill out the depth chart.

"It's going to be a different combination of guys playing the line this week," right tackle Jammal Brown said. "You wouldn't want this to happen throughout the year, all the change-ups, but that is how this season kind of fell."

Notes: In addition to Byrd's re-signing, NT Chris Baker was signed from the practice squad. T Cole Pemberton was signed to the practice squad. ... With construction of the practice bubble well behind schedule, the team had to practice at a remote indoor facility Wednesday because of heavy rains.

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Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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