- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Watching Brandon Banks zip around the football field Wednesday morning, you’d never know that his abdomen bears the scar of a knife wound. That’s the way Banks wants it, though. Out of sight and out of mind.

But whether Washington Redskins coaches and the public forget that Banks was stabbed outside a District nightclub in February is largely up to him.

He considers the incident nothing more than another bump in his road to NFL success. Rightly or wrongly, however, he now faces questions about whether the stabbing was symptomatic of a mentality that runs counter to that of a productive, upstanding NFL player.

“It’s always something trying to bring you down,” Banks said. “But if you love the game and love what you do, can’t nobody stop the things I want to do.”

The Redskins‘ little bolt of lightning went from undrafted obscurity last summer to headliner. At 5-feet-7, 155 pounds, Banks’ blazing speed thrust him to the top of the Redskins‘ short list of playmakers. A left knee injury in late October slowed him down, but Banks still was dangerous returning kicks and punts.

The afterglow of a successful rookie season, however, was extinguished in the early morning hours of Feb. 12. Banks and his childhood friend, Christopher Nixon, were stabbed during a fight outside The Park at Fourteenth in Northwest.

Banks remains reluctant to discuss the incident, calling it a “closed door” Wednesday. But he and his agent have dismissed any suggestions he was involved in starting it. They insist he was a victim. Banks suffered a collapsed lung and spent six days in the hospital.

“When I heard about what happened, I was frustrated and I was worried,” Redskins receiver Anthony Armstrong said. “Being from the area, you’re going to think about the Sean Taylor incident. You don’t want that to happen again. You don’t want someone to lose their life.”

Banks, 23, has since almost fully recovered. He said Wednesday at the team’s informal players-only minicamp that he is “90 percent” healthy.

Meanwhile, Jason Shorter of Lanham, Md., has been charged in the incident. He is due back in court July 12 for a status update; he hasn’t been indicted.

In trying to move on, Banks is relying on experiences he gained during previous turbulent times. He was arrested on domestic battery charges in December 2009 and later was given a 90-day suspended sentence and a year of probation.

“It kind of helped me because I’ve been in tougher situations,” he said. “I’ve lost loved ones. … It was another hurdle to jump, and hopefully I don’t have another hurdle.”

That will be up to Banks, teammates say. They want him to demonstrate a level of maturity and self-discipline that helps him steer clear of trouble.

Before the stabbing, Banks frequently used his Twitter account to announce nightclubs he would be attending. And while such declarations are innocuous enough, some of Banks’ older teammates realize how calling attention to oneself can lead to negative situations.

Banks shut down his Twitter account after the stabbing. He recently re-started it, but he appears to have left the nightlife updates behind.

“Sometimes you need to fall on your butt before you realize you need to focus in and make yourself improve,” Armstrong said. “It’s a shame it had to go that way, but maybe that will be what it is.

“I think that going through a situation like this, you’re going to end up maturing. You’re going to end up waking up.”

At the very least, Banks’ job could depend on it. The Redskins drafted three receivers, including kick returner Niles Paul, last month.

Banks will use that as motivation.

“I’ve always got a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “It’s just the person I am. Ever since I got here I’ve had a chip on my shoulder. I still do, and I still have a lot of proving to do.”

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