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Duckett: Redskins Had Long-Term Memory

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Back on Week 2 of the 2003 season, the Redskins rallied with a strong second half to stun Atlanta 33-31 in the Georgia Dome. Early in that game, one of the problems for the Redskins' defense involved trying to stop a burly second-year running back by the name of T.J. Duckett.

Then in his second NFL season, the 6-0, 254-pound Duckett ran over Washington's defense for 13- and 1-yard TDs as the Falcons built up an early 17-0 lead.

The pounding, bruising style of Duckett has remained in the memory bank of the Redskins' braintrust ever since that Sept. 14, 2003 game.

Now, Duckett, whose name has been bandied about Redskin Park for three seasons, has joined the Redskins' backfield.

It's appropriate that he be a Redskin: He was nicknamed "Diesel" when he played his college ball at Michigan State. John Riggins, of course, was the "Diesel" for the Redskins in the 1970s and '80s.

Head coach Joe Gibbs, no doubt, remembers Duckett from 2002-03 when he was a minority owner with the Falcons.

Selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft as the 18th overall pick, Duckett has played in 54 games with 14 starts. T.J., or Todd Jeffery, has 31 TDs in those 54 games. Last season, Duckett (14 games, 121 carries, 280 yards) helped the Falcons lead the NFL in rushing for the second straight season (159.1 yards per game).

Incidentally, Duckett hails from Kalamazoo, Mich., known in the sports world as the town where Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter grew up.

A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like the Redskins' roster was all but set. It appeared only a few tweaks remained.

Since then, injuries to Clinton Portis and Shawn Springs have forced the club to seek out fresh talent at corner and running back. It's been something of a revolving door at Redskins Park of late.

Duckett's role in the backfield and the status of other backs will need to be ironed out before the regular season starts.

Ladell Betts has drawn raves from both Gibbs and associate head coach-offense Al Saunders this offseason. Rock Cartwright and Jesse Lumsden are other options at running back. But Cartwright's key contribution has been on special teams and Lumsden is a first-year player who has been slowed by injury in recent weeks.

For now, this much is certain: The possibility that Duckett and 6-3, 278-pound fullback Mike Sellers could line up in the same goal-line offense for the Redskins would give them a pair of mammoth alternatives.

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