Ryan Clark: RGIII ‘has to be the leader of this team’

Ryan Clark has been on the Redskins for about five minutes, but he’s already among the team’s best spokesmen, calling to chat with random Redskins fans, interacting with fans and media members on Twitter, and going on ESPN to talk about what DeSean Jackson‘s addition means for the franchise.

And so, after Clark discussed Jackson’s addition on ESPN Wednesday morning, he faced this natural question from Hannah Storm.

“Let’s call it what it was last season: It was an absolute mess there,” she said. “And a lack of leadership in Washington is something that a lot of people were pointing towards. To what extent can you and do you plan on being a veteran leader on this team?”

“All I can do is come here and continue to be Ryan Clark, continue to do the same things that I did for eight years in Pittsburgh and the four years previous,” Clark said. “You know I’m gonna work hard,  I’m gonna be in the building. And if things need to be said to players, I’ll say them to the players. I won’t bring it to the media and say ‘Hey I had this talk or I said this to so and so.’

“But RGIII, he has to be the leader of this team,” Clark went on. “I think he took a huge step toward that, reaching out to me immediately after I signed and we had a good phone conversation and we talked about a lot of different things. But mostly we talked about doing work and leading this team on both sides of the ball. I’m going to be here to support him and to support anything the coaching staff wants to do.

“But the bottom line is it comes down to what you do producing on the field,” Clark finished. “If you don’t go out and produce, if you don’t work hard, if you don’t show these guys that you’re willing to put your hand in the pile and contribute, then they won’t follow you, you won’t have the opportunity to be a leader. So the football comes first. And the rest of those things, those locker room things, I think you deal with by the way that you handle your teammates. And look, we all know how this game works. If we win games there won’t be a talk of lack of leadership, there won’t be a talk of locker room problems. It’ll be about the Ws and the Ls.”

As for his breakdown of Jackson’s meaning to the team, it was about what you’d expect.

“You had Pierre Garcon, you obviously have a great running back in Morris, RGIII is getting healthy, we’ve talked extensively about him finally getting rid of the knee brace,” Clark said. “But DeSean Jackson is a guy that takes the top off of a defense. And even when he’s not getting the ball, defensively you have to be aware of where he is and you have to have a safety over the top. So it opens up things for RGIII and also the running game … Also you get Jordan Reed back healthy, who was an explosive tight end in his rookie year out of Florida. And so once these guys can get rolling, once you can get Jay Gruden working with these pieces – similar to what he did in Cincinnati – I think RGIII will be the type of guy that comes around and has a big third year.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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