The Redskins' acquisition of running back T.J. Duckett caught a number of players by surprise on Wednesday. For some, it created an air of uncertainty, but they also viewed it as another piece of the puzzle for a team hoping to make a playoff run in 2006.
Duckett was acquired by the Redskins as part of a three-team trade involving the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos on Wednesday. He is regarded as a bruising, tough runner who has rushed for 2,175 yards (on 552 carries) and 31 touchdowns in his NFL career.
"It'll be a great opportunity for him and hopefully it will work out for all of us," running back Clinton Portis said. "As a team, we hope it gets us over the hump."
Added right tackle Jon Jansen: "Everybody sees that we have an opportunity to be good and [team officials] are going to take every chance we can to give us an even better chance."
Portis was asked if the addition of Duckett creates sort of a "Thunder and Lightning" backfield combination. Portis is a 5-11, 205-pound back with explosive speed while Duckett is 6-0 and 254 pound bulldozing type of back.
"I'm a bruiser, too," Portis said, somewhat defensively but with a smile nevertheless.
Then he added: "But whatever it is, to add him as a complement, to have a bigger back come in for me, Ladell [Betts] or Rock [Cartwright], it'll mean more competition from all of us. We're going to have to step our level of play up. In the end, there'll be tougher guys on the field."
The addition of Duckett creates some uncertainty for Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright, the last two remaining members of the Redskins' 2002 draft class.
"It was kind of a shock, but I know that's the nature of this business," Cartwright said.
Duckett's role in the Redskins' offense has yet to be defined. It seems a certainty that Duckett will serve in short yardage situations, an area that the Redskins' offense has struggled with at times the last few years.
Betts considers himself to be a complete back, in the Portis mode.
"I don't view myself as a back with just a specific role," he said. "I don't think of myself as a back that just fills a short yardage role or a guy who comes in on third downs. I just do what coaches ask me to do."
Both Betts and Cartwright could play a key role on the 2006 Redskins because both are contributors on special teams. Betts is a kickoff returner and Cartwright serves on punt and kickoff coverage units.
Still, both players admitted the trade was unsettling.
Said Cartwright: "That is the decision that they wanted to make and I have to live with it. I am a team guy though. Anything I can do for the team to help the team win, that is what I am going to do.
"If it is being a key player on special teams, that is what I am going to do. That is what I have been doing the last two years here, so I am going to continue to do that."