- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

There’s nothing like a two-game winning streak and 67 points by the offense to get people back on Mark Brunell’s side, get people to acknowledge how valuable Clinton Portis is and, well, get people to stop flooding Redskins Mailbag with questions. But there were a couple e-mails this week.

Q: What’s the status with T.J. Duckett? Is he in the doghouse? Kevin

A: It’s becoming more clear every week that Duckett was acquired from Atlanta in mid-August because the Redskins were panicked by the shoulder injury to Clinton Portis. The only way Duckett will get on the field is if Portis gets hurt. Period.

Duckett has five carries in two games. Coach Joe Gibbs said Duckett has been placed on the inactive list for two games because the Redskins run so many packages with two tight ends and Chris Cooley and Christian Fauria have been nursing injuries. That’s probably true.

But Duckett can’t crack the lineup because Ladell Betts is the No. 2 back, No. 3 back Mike Sellers is a better blocker and No. 4 back Rock Cartwright is needed to return kickoffs.

Q: The Redskins have been terrible at Giants Stadium the last two years. What makes you think this year will be any different? Craig

A: Two years ago, the Redskins produced seven turnovers in a Week 2 loss when Mark Brunell had a hamstring injury. Last year was a 36-0 whitewashing (although, days after Wellington Mara’s death, the Giants would have beaten anybody).

This week could be different. The Redskins’ offense is stronger than it was in 2004-05, and the Giants are on the verge of disarray: They own a 1-2 record, Jeremy Shockey is popping off again and their defense can’t get to the quarterback.

Q: Why didn’t Shawn Springs have his surgery taken care of at the end of last year? He was very much aware that he had it. I feel he is cheating the fans and his team by not having this done. John M.

A: In Springs’ defense, he went through the offseason confident the groin problems that plagued him late last season — the injury forced him to miss the Tampa Bay playoff game — were in the past. He went through the offseason program and the first two weeks of training camp without any problems.

The Redskins got fans’ hopes up by labeling Springs’ surgery as “minor,” suggesting he would be ready for the Minnesota game. There was no way Springs was going to be ready for the first two games. Then, Springs suffered a groin injury the team said was not related to the surgery, keeping him out of uniform the last two games and probably for this week’s Giants contest.

Q: The season finale is against the Giants, and the TV network listed is the NFL Network. Does that mean it won’t be on basic cable? Derek

A: Don’t worry. The Dec. 30 game, at 8 p.m., will be available on WDCA-TV (Ch. 20). Just like when ESPN broadcasts Redskins games, the local markets will get the game on an over-the-air station.

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