- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 6, 2017

RICHMOND — The Washington Redskins play their first preseason game of the year Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens and tight end Vernon Davis would be open to seeing a familiar face across the sidelines.

“Yeah, it’s always great to see Colin Kaepernick,” Davis said. “I wish him well. I hope everything works out well for him. That’s pretty much it.”

The Ravens are one of the few NFL teams that have seriously considered signing Kaepernick since the quarterback parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers in March. A minor back injury to Joe Flacco and backup Ryan Mallett’s sporadic play could open the door to the Ravens adding another quarterback.

Kaepernick, given his experience and talent, would seem to make sense.

But Kaepernick has become a controversial figure among NFL teams and fans. Is he being blackballed? Does his style no longer fit an NFL team? Does he deserve to get another shot?

Those on the Redskins who have coached or played with Kaepernick in San Francisco all vouch for his character — but studiously steer clear of the politics.

“He was a great teammate,” Colt McCoy said. “I was there for a year with him. We were very successful and went to the NFC Championship Game (in 2013). I got along well with Colin.”

So why hasn’t Kaepernick landed a job?

“I don’t really want to talk about this, to be honest,” McCoy said, adding again he liked Kaepernick.

“I got nothing to go there,” said Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who was San Francisco’s head coach in 2015 and with the 49ers since 2007.

“I try not to get involved with that,” Davis said. “He’s a great player. I assume someone wants him, wants to pick him up. As far as everything else, I kind of stay out of that. It’s not my realm. I just wish the best for him.”

Kaepernick became one of the major storylines in the NFL last season by sitting or kneeling during the national anthem as a symbolic protest, he said, of police brutality toward minorities in the U.S.

Since then, the image-conscious NFL has given the one-time Super Bowl signal-caller the cold shoulder.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said he’d have to weigh potential fan backlash before signing Kaepernick.

One of the most outspoken players in the league said the owners are punishing Kaepernick.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman rattled off a list of quarterbacks he considers less talented than Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s situation, he said, is not about football or color, “it’s about ‘Boy, stay in your place.’”

Critics say Kaepernick’s skills have eroded in recent years, but the out-of-work quarterback still has his fans on the Redskins roster.

“I don’t know it in terms of ownership how they want to handle the business, but like I said, Colin is a great leader,” said Redskins tight end Derek Carrier, who played in San Francisco from 2013-15.

Davis said he was sure Kaepernick could still contribute. Davis said he had to adjust to Kaepernick after the scrambler took over the 49ers’ starting job from the less-mobile Alex Smith. But the adjustment, he said, was no different than any other time a team changes quarterback.

“He was fantastic,” Davis said. “He’s always been a great quarterback. He can do it all, run and pass. Hard to find that kind of quarterback, few and far between when it comes to that kind of talent. But he was great.”

The Ravens issued a statement last week denying an ESPN report that general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh wanted to sign Kaepernick, but was facing resistance from owner Steve Bisciotti.

Bisciotti admitted last week other factors come into play when it comes to Kaepernick. At a fan forum last weekend, Bisciotti said they will “do what’s best for the team and balance that with what is best for the fans.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban added fuel to the fire, telling the Washington Post he was glad the NBA didn’t have a “politician litmus test for our players.” Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal retweeted the comments and added “facts.”

Last season, Kaepernick threw for 2,241 yards for 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in 12 games. But his team went 1-10 in his 11 starts. To critics of Kapernick, the 1-10 record is a sign he can’t win football games anymore. Supporters, though, blame San Francisco’s lack of supporting cast.

“I don’t think he has lost a step,” Davis said. “From what I was able to observe, it seems like he put up phenomenal numbers. I’m sure he can still play.”

 

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