By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The Washington Redskins have acquired running back T.J. Duckett from Atlanta as part of a three-team trade, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Duckett, 25, will bolster their depth at that position with star Clinton Portis recovering from a shoulder injury. The Redskins sent a draft pick to Denver as part of the deal, sources said, and the Broncos sent disgruntled wide receiver Ashley Lelie to the Falcons.
The Broncos and Redskins were working on complicated language for the draft pick compensation, sources said, with a third-round pick the most likely selection to be exchanged. The possibility exists, however, that the teams could end up swapping picks in other rounds depending on how they finish in the standings.
Duckett, a four-year veteran who is eligible for free agency after this season, will join a deep backfield with veteran backup tailbacks Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright already on the roster. He worked well sharing carries with feature back Warrick Dunn in Atlanta.
"I've talked to T.J. a lot about this trade, and he is very excited about this opportunity," said Joel Segal, Duckett's agent. "He knows he's got to come in and learn a system, which appears to be a system that fits his style of running. So he just wants to come in and try to play a role and do the best he can to help the Redskins win."
Redskins officials began contacting their other running backs around 9 p.m. yesterday to let them know of Duckett's arrival, according to a source.
Portis will miss the rest of the preseason but hopes to be back for the opening game. Betts, who has fared well as the primary backup and has been working with the team on a contract extension, and Cartwright, a special teams ace, were expected to carry the load with Portis out. The Redskins briefly explored trying to add a year to Duckett's contract, league sources said, but those talks were fruitless.
Duckett, 25, is a 2002 first-round pick (18th overall) who utilizes a bruising running style with his 6-foot, 254-pound frame and could serve as a strong complement to Portis, a swifter and speedier back. He also would provide ample cover should Portis's left shoulder bother him throughout the season. Portis, who set the franchise rushing mark last season, has a partially dislocated shoulder, but was out of his sling and working on his conditioning.
Duckett averaged a paltry 3.1 yards per carry in 14 games last season in the Falcons' crowded backfield -- by far his career low -- but has a 3.9-yard average over his NFL career. He also has a nose for the end zone and is a quality short-yardage back, with 31 touchdowns in 55 games. His best season came in 2003, when he gained a career-best 779 yards and scored 11 touchdowns with a 4.0 average per carry.
Teams have expressed interest in Betts this summer, according to league sources, and while the Redskins have begun exploratory negotiations aimed at re-signing him -- Betts is in the final year of his contract -- Washington could still end up dealing a running back, with the deadline for the final cutdown to the 53-man roster about two weeks away.Crash Course Continues
Like the rest of his teammates, newly acquired cornerback Mike Rumph said he expected this week's practices would be grueling.
"He told us what we needed to do to get better," Rumph said of Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense. "There's a lot of talent around here. We're looking for that edge. We had to correct some things."
Rumph said he wasn't happy with how he played Saturday against the Jets. Despite recording four tackles, he was late in recognizing a reverse that went for a 61-yard touchdown and was penalized for illegal contact. Though his play could be considered forgivable -- he had signed 72 hours earlier -- Rumph wasn't letting himself off the hook.
"It's all new, but being in this league you can't make excuses," he said. "Coach Williams made sure we got it right today."Patten Sits Out Again
Wide receiver David Patten did not practice because of a bruised thigh. It was the first practice Patten has missed since missing the first week of training camp with viral meningitis. . . .
Offensive lineman Jim Molinaro said he is recovering quickly from knee surgery and expects to return soon. Molinaro was on the field yesterday doing flexibility drills without pads. He stopped using crutches a day after his surgery two weeks ago. . . .
The status of the rest of the players who have not practiced during the week -- running back Clinton Portis, cornerback Shawn Springs, defensive end Phillip Daniels, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, linebacker Kevin Simon and tight end Robert Johnson -- has not changed.
Staff writer Howard Bryant contributed to this report.