- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Undoubtedly concerned about how much pounding Clinton Portis’ dislocated left shoulder can take in a 16-game season, the Washington Redskins bolstered their running back position last night by acquiring T.J. Duckett from the Atlanta Falcons, according to a league source.

In a three-way trade, the Falcons acquired receiver Ashley Lelie from the Denver Broncos and the Redskins shipped a draft choice — believed to be a third-round selection — to the Broncos.

Lelie had been holding out of the Broncos’ training camp, upset with the team’s acquisition of Javon Walker.

The Redskins would not comment pending approval of the trade by the NFL office.

The Falcons have been in the market for a receiver since Brian Finneran sustained a season-ending right knee injury on July 30. Not interested in any of the Redskins’ receivers, Atlanta started exploring a three-team trade and talks intensified last week when the Redskins lost Portis for the preseason.



Duckett, a free agent at the end of the season, is a former first-round draft pick but could never beat out Warrick Dunn to become the Falcons’ top back. Duckett’s best season was 2003, when he rushed 197 times for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has 31 touchdowns, but his production plummeted last year when he averaged a career-low 3.1 yards a carry.

A bruising back, the 6-foot, 254-pound Duckett, 25, would seem to be a fine option in short-yardage situations, saving Portis unnecessary punishment.

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was not available for comment last night. Following practice yesterday, he once again acknowledged the team had received — and made — calls exploring trade options in the past week.

“At this point, I’m saying that you have all kinds of names thrown around,” he said. “You can’t stand here and comment on all of them so there’s no sense talking about it. It’s just something that goes on at this time of the year.”

Gibbs added “things like that, they get done one [time] in a hundred, anyway.”

That one time came last night.

Whether Duckett’s arrival makes him the No. 2 running back behind Portis and ahead of Ladell Betts remains to be seen. Betts, a different type of back than Duckett, has only 321 carries in 48 career games.

The trade was the second by the Redskins in eight days — the team dealt receiver Taylor Jacobs to San Francisco for cornerback Mike Rumph — and the third trade involving Denver since March 2004, when Portis was swapped for cornerback Champ Bailey.

The addition of Duckett also eliminates Stephen Davis’ chances of returning to the Redskins. Davis worked out in Philadelphia on Monday but did not sign a contract with the Eagles. It is believed his representatives called the Redskins expressing a desire to chat, but the interest was not mutual.

Patten sits

Receiver David Patten missed yesterday’s practice with a bruised thigh, but Gibbs expects him to play Saturday at New England.

Also sitting out were Molinaro, Shawn Springs (abdominal surgery), Portis (shoulder), Kevin Simon (hamstring), Robert Johnson (ankle), Phillip Daniels (back) and Cornelius Griffin (knee).

Portis went through the team’s walk-through yesterday and Gibbs said Springs will re-join the team today after following orders to stay at home and rest.

Asked whether there will be a potential for Portis’ shoulder injury to linger, Gibbs said: “When I talked to the doctors, they said this was the better injury on the shoulder because if things were separated, it would be much more of a concern. They seem to think he’ll be OK.”

Waiting his turn

Antwaan Randle El is expected to be the Redskins’ punt returner when they open the season against Minnesota. But Randle El hasn’t returned a punt in the preseason.

“Sometimes when there is a punt return, we don’t have the whole first group going and it’s the coaching staff’s way of protecting me,” said Randle El, who had just one fair catch last year for Pittsburgh. “I always beg for just one in a [preseason] game because you can’t get that same atmosphere in practice. But it wouldn’t come this week.”

Additional work

Punter Derrick Frost added kickoff duties against the Jets last week. His first kick went to the Jets’ 3 and was returned 47 yards. His second went only to the 13 and was returned 87 yards for a touchdown.

Frost, who also handled kickoffs in college, had two last year.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve done it but I think I hit the first one really well and the second one was short, but I thought it had good hang time,” he said. “I think it’ll come back pretty quickly.”

Frost said special teams coach Danny Smith brought up the idea last week.

“Since I’ve been in the league, guys have known I could kick off,” Frost said. “It got to the point here where Danny was trying to get some kickoffs from somebody else.”

Additional work, part II

Gibbs said the starting offense would play more snaps against New England. Quarterback Mark Brunell has played 13 snaps in each of the team’s preseason defeats.

“I don’t ever tell them how much but our plan is to play them more,” Gibbs said. “But it may not go that way.”

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