Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An injured Redskins team could be an ugly one

You probably already know by now that Donovan McNabb has a sprained ankle and hasn't been practicing. Head coach Mike Shanahan has said that he's not sure if McNabb will be ready in time to play in the season opener against Dallas. Unfortunately, Clinton Portis is also dealing with an injured ankle, though his injury isn't as much of a concern as McNabb's.

Neither practiced on Monday and both have already been ruled out of the Redskins' preseason finale against the Cardinals -- which is common since most starters are held out of the final preseason game anyway. Still, McNabb and Portis have nearly two weeks to get healthy, and according to Rick Maese (in the second linked story above), "both seemed to be walking around on their sore ankles without much problem" yesterday.

So they'll likely both be ready to play against Dallas. But don't expect this to be the last time that injuries plague McNabb and Portis this season. McNabb turns 34 in November, and although he's a tough guy and battles through an assortment of injuries, he has played a full 16 games just once in the last six seasons. (In three of those seasons, he played in 15, 14, and 14 games, so he's durable, but he will miss games.) Portis is a little younger -- he actually turns 29 tomorrow -- but he also plays a different position, running back, and has taken a pounding the last few seasons. Portis suffered a serious concussion last season and only played in eight games, but with Shanahan in town he seems to be in great shape and has been working out and practicing hard to impress the new coaching staff. If he stays healthy, he should unquestionably receive the bulk of the carries.

If McNabb and Portis miss games this season, especially at the same time, the Redskins are in big trouble. A starting lineup that features Rex Grossman at quarterback and Larry Johnson as the main rusher isn't exactly promising, to say the least. One of the risks the Redskins have taken over the last several years -- trading away their draft picks -- frequently results in a lack of depth at key positions. It's nice to have players like McNabb and Portis (both were acquired in trades), but it's even better to hold onto picks and draft solid players. Easier said than done, though, I guess.

For the Redskins to remain competitive this season, barring some kind of miracle, McNabb and Portis both need to be healthy and need to play well. It's a lot to ask of two players, but this team doesn't really have other options.

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