Kyle Shanahan and Rex Grossman return to old stomping grounds

August 17, 2014

Cleveland Browns wide receiver AnthonyArmstrong catches a long pass against cornerback Jordan Poyer during training camp. (Mark Duncan/Associated Press)

The Washington Redskins will see familiar faces when they welcome the Cleveland Browns to FedEx Field on Monday night.

In addition to former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who coached in Washington the past four seasons, and two other former assistant coaches, the Browns also now have three past Redskins players on the roster.

Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, who played in Washington in 2010 and 2011 now is looking to make the Browns’ 53-man roster. Tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, who signed with Washington as an undrafted rookie in 2013 but didn’t survive final roster cuts, also plays for the Browns.

Last Tuesday, Cleveland signed backup quarterback Rex Grossman, who played with Washington for four years. This is now Grossman’s third stint with Shanahan, having played under him in Houston before following him to Washington.

Washington’s players last week were happy to hear Grossman, who started for Washington in 2011, had found work. Left tackle Trent Williams said he had wondered why Cleveland hadn’t signed Grossman sooner. But wide receiver Santana Moss and cornerback DeAngelo Hall both half-jokingly commended Grossman on making a smart veteran move in waiting until the end of training camp to agree to a deal.

Grossman remained a popular figure in Washington’s locker room the past two seasons even after Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins arrived on the scene, knocking the veteran down to third string.

Players all liked Grossman’s aggressive style of play and willingness to go for the gusto, even though at times, he would keep both teams in the game, gunning touchdown passes and interceptions with nearly the same frequency.

Tongue in cheek, Hall lamented the fact that he wouldn’t be in the game still by the time Grossman took the field.

“If I wasn’t trying to just get out of [this preseason game] healthy, I’d probably ask to go back into the game to face Rex,” he said. “We all know he’s going to throw some 50-50 balls up there, because he’s a gunslinger.”

Shanahan brought with him to Cleveland assistants Mike McDaniel (wide receivers coach) and Richard Hightower (special teams assistant in Washington and now an offensive assistant).

Shanahan and Griffin had their clashes. But Washington’s other offensive players have a great deal of respect for their former offensive coordinator.

Wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss praised Shanahan as a great offensive mind, and said they still had a good relationship with him. Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins also expressed gratitude for Shanahan’s work with him, and said “I always felt like his preparation and game planning always put me in a position to succeed.”

Fullback Darrel Young, who joined Washington’s practice squad as a linebacker late in 2009, but under Shanahan made the switch to fullback and started all four years, also had high praise for Shanahan.

“It’s kind of weird seeing him in Brown,” Young said. “But I have the utmost respect for Kyle because he put me in position to be a starter for this Redskins organization, and he allowed me to put some good stuff on tape so I could earn Jay’s confidence. So, my hat’s off to him. But obviously, I want to win this game.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

The Redskins and Browns clash on Monday Night Football at 8 p.m.

Also from The Post:

Familiarity with Shanahan offense could help defense

Reid: Kyle Shanahan is reinvigorated in Cleveland

Griffin vs. Manziel tale of the tape | Cousins okay as a backup

Thompson, Sharpton out | Starters will play a quarter | Video

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Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mike Jones · August 17, 2014