For Patten, Signings Provide 'Motivation'

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

As David Patten drove back to Virginia from his home in South Carolina last weekend, his cell phone began ringing repeatedly. One friend after another called with news that at first stung. The Redskins were bringing in another wide receiver. Antwaan Randle El, Pittsburgh's spectacular playmaker, was coming to the Washington Redskins.

Soon after came word of another blockbuster: Brandon Lloyd, the highlight-reel wide receiver from San Francisco, had joined the Redskins in a trade. This couldn't be.

"All my friends were calling me asking me if I was all right," Patten said. "They were asking me if I was cool, how was I doing, if the Redskins were trying to get rid of me, if I was still with the team. I thought they'd be looking at one receiver, but two?"

On Sunday, the day before the Redskins' new wide receivers were introduced, Patten received a phone call from Coach Joe Gibbs, who told him both signings were not a reflection on him, but merely on the team's underproduction at wide receiver last year. Patten said he listened attentively and asked Gibbs a question, one to which the right answer would provide some gasoline for Patten's tank.

"Coach, will you play the best guy?" he asked.

Gibbs told Patten he would, and the result is a player who is not sulking, but rather one who is challenged by a receiving corps that will energize him and motivate him to compete with younger players.

What has transpired over the past few days underscores the aggressive nature of the Redskins' front office, and in the wake of signing Randle El and acquiring Lloyd, Gibbs has had to diplomatically offer some reassurances.

One year ago, it was Patten who stood where his rivals stood Monday, at the podium, introduced as the newest high-priced player on a team seeking a Super Bowl title. It was Patten, and not Randle El, who was fresh off of a Super Bowl win with the Patriots, joining the Redskins.

But today, after a frustrating year in which he did not score a touchdown, caught just 22 passes and, he says, was prematurely placed on injured reserve, Patten now describes himself with a multitude of adjectives. He is the underdog, fighting against younger, possibly more talented players. He is the elder statesman at 31, willing to push this new core of young receivers.

"Who could question that?" Patten said of the acquisitions. "Randle El can do it all. Think of the mismatches we're going to create at the line of scrimmage. And Brandon? In the San Francisco game, he was the only one on their side making plays. He's got the potential to take over the league.

"I'll tell you, if I'm not the starter, then we'll have the strongest receiving corps in the league. Don't tell me what I can't do. I'll give it everything I've got, and if it's not good enough, I can hold up. I can live with that."

Patten has attempted to process where he currently stands with the Redskins organization, and has turned to his faith for guidance. Faith, Patten says, is why he believes he will be able to compete without the anger that might be expected of a person dealing with two new, high-priced talents at his position.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company