After bye, Redskins are eager to shake lingering uncertainty

The Washington Post's regular panel of football insiders debate whether or not Rex Grossman will start a game this year, what the effect of the benching episode will have on McNabb re-signing with the team and state their cases for team MVP.
By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2010; 1:32 AM

After five days off, the Washington Redskins returned to work Monday, only to discover that many of the issues and questions the team faced entering the bye week still linger. Chief among them: the status and role of quarterback Donovan McNabb, who was benched in the team's last outing. In fact, the uncertainty surrounding McNabb only grew during the team's bye week.

"Everywhere I was, that's all I saw was stuff about Donovan," said cornerback DeAngelo Hall. "I don't think the bye week gave it a chance to go anywhere except just sit there and fester. It's still there."

In preparation for their Nov. 15 game against Philadelphia, the Redskins held their first practice of the week on Monday. Despite sore hamstrings, McNabb participated and Coach Mike Shanahan said the quarterback reported feeling better than he did before the bye week.

"It's still there," Shanahan said of McNabb's hamstring injuries. "So hopefully there's no setback, and it'll keep on getting better."

The uncertain relationship between coach and quarterback is still there, as well, though Shanahan made clear that he hopes to move past the commotion that has surrounded his decision to pull McNabb with less than two minutes left in the Oct. 31 game against Detroit.

Even though the Redskins were off last week, national analysts and reporters across the NFL still picked at the situation like an open wound. Unnamed sources and unattributed reports cast doubt on McNabb's future in Washington, his understanding of the offense and his relationship with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

"It's the nature of the beast," Mike Shanahan said. "Any time that you make a decision like that, obviously there's going to be a lot of controversy in it. I've always been one to do what I think is in the best interest of the team, even though sometimes it's very controversial.

"You've got to make those decisions that you think give you the best chance to win. It's not always very popular, but one that I felt is right. As I shared with the team, sometimes you don't always make the right decision, but you make a decision based on your gut feeling during the week - how did somebody practice, how a game's going - and you go with it."

McNabb is expected to start Monday when the Eagles, his former team, come to town. As long as he's healthy enough, he'll likely run the team's two-minute offense as well.

Shanahan said he doesn't regret his decision to use Rex Grossman at the end of the team's loss at Detroit and he's not concerned about lingering ill effects from the benching. He and McNabb spoke last Monday and Tuesday but did not chat during the players' time off.

Time will tell whether McNabb still has the trust of his coaches, but among his teammates, confidence apparently hasn't wavered.

"Everybody has Donovan's back. Plain and simple, everybody does," said fullback Mike Sellers.

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