- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2013

DENVER – Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis was inactive for the second consecutive week when his team played the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Davis sat amidst rumors that he wants to be dealt before the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday. Davis denied that in a radio interview last Tuesday with radio station 106.7 The Fan. But he also said that a change of scenery might be necessary if he isn’t in the team’s plans.

Last season, Davis appeared in seven games before sustaining a season-ending tear of his left Achilles tendon in an Oct. 21 game against the New York Giants. He was second on the Redskins with 796 receiving yards in 2011 and had 59 catches and three touchdowns. But Davis missed the final four games of that season for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Doughty unable to travel

The Redskins were also without starting strong safety Reed Doughty on Sunday. He was still suffering from the effects of a concussion sustained last weekend against the Chicago Bears and did not even make the trip to Denver.

The other inactives against the Broncos: Davis, third-string quarterback Rex Grossman; running back/punt returner Chris Thompson; linebacker Brandon Jenkins; offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus and defensive lineman Chris Neild.

Neild sat again with a calf injury originally suffered in Oakland on Set. 29. LeRibeus, a former third-round pick, has yet to appear in a game this season.

Starting safeties sidelined

The absence of Doughty meant both of Washington’s starting safeties were out. Brandon Meriweather was suspended one game by the NFL for two illegal hits against Chicago last week.

That left a host of inexperience at the position. The active safeties included Jose Gumbs, primarily a special teams player, rookie Bacarri Rambo, inactive the last three weeks, and Trenton Robinson, cut by Philadelphia on Oct. 8 and signed last week by Washington.

Jordan Pugh, who made the Redskins out of training camp, was cut to make room for Robinson. But he was brought back this week once it was clear Meriweather would be punished.

Gumbs started at strong safety with reserve corner E.J. Biggers starting at free safety. Rambo, a sixth-round draft choice this spring, was inactive the previous three games. He’d originally been listed as the starter before giving way to Biggers. But Gumbs left the field late in the first quarter with Rambo taking over his spot. Gumbs appeared to favor his left leg. He remained in on special teams, however.

Morgan breaks out on return

Special teams has been an issue all season for the Redskins. One of the biggest problems? A complete lack of playmaking from any of the kick or punt returners. Josh Morgan received another chance on Sunday and produced the biggest return of the season for Washington.

Early in the second quarter, Morgan fielded a Britton Colquitt punt at the 6 and appeared in serious trouble with Broncos bearing down on him. But Morgan, who has shown little elusiveness during his brief time as a punt returner this season, avoided several tacklers, shook off a few more and then hit a seam along the left sideline.

By the time he was done, Morgan had a 34-yard return. And while the Redskins didn’t take advantage on the ensuing offensive drive, it was a boost. Their previous best return was just 11 yards.

Shanahan gets his due

The video clip lasted 32 seconds and featured the highlights of Mike Shanahan’s tenure with the Denver Broncos.

There were many, including back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1997 and 1998. All week Shanahan tried to downplay his return to the Mile High City, where he still owns a home and a restaurant, where his son, Kyle, grew up and met his wife.

Things turned sour late in Shanahan’s 14-year tenure, however. The Broncos missed the playoffs his final three seasons before his shocking firing after the 2008 season. Denver won just one playoff game after Hall-of-Fame quarterback John Elway retired in 1998 after that second championship.

All of those late failures were forgotten by the sellout crowd at Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High on Sunday afternoon as the Broncos prepared to kickoff against the Redskins, Shanahan’s new team.

And the man, who joked earlier in the week he just hoped not to be booed by the crowd when they showed him on the big scoreboard, instead tried to keep his composure as a giant roar swept over him.

That’s never been a problem for the icy-eyed Shanahan, though he did allow himself a wry smile and waved to the crowd. Then it was quickly back to business. There was a game to win.

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