With Albert Haynesworth suspended without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, Redskins players have started to put the drama of the last 10 months out of their minds.
If only the media would stop asking about it...
"I think it's great for everybody – it's great for [the media], it's great for this team, it's great for coaches – to not get asked these questions anymore," defensive end Phillip Daniels said in the Redskins' locker room on Wednesday. "We can move forward and concentrate on football. Every week we've been asked these questions over and over and now it's time to move on."
Daniels has been one of the more outspoken players on Haynesworth's status with the club.
After last Sunday's game against the New York Giants, Daniels called Haynesworth's surprise deactivation a distraction. Haynesworth was sidelined because he practiced poorly last Thursday and sat out Friday's session due to an illness.
Said Daniels on Wednesday: "It's not a distraction anymore. In my eyes, it's over. In this team's eyes, it's over. We're just going to go out there and play football."
Quarterback Donovan McNabb, one of the Redskins' team captains, said he would contact Haynesworth this week as a friend.
He admitted there is a measure of relief inside the Redskins' locker room that the Haynesworth drama has finally played itself out.
"It all depends on the individuals who feel like they're tied into it," McNabb said. "I think the relief of the whole deal comes from the fact that it could be possibly over and we can focus in on what we need to do instead of answering questions all the time.
"I think both [Haynesworth and head coach Mike Shanahan] felt comfortable about it – I don't know. We're just going to focus on what we need to do here."
The suspension came as a surprise to some Redskins, but they agreed some form of disciplinary action was bound to happen.
"I was just thinking, 'Something's going to happen,' because [Haynesworth and Shanahan] did not get along," cornerback Carlos Rogers said.
Defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday, who appeared on ESPN on Tuesday, said he thought that the relationship between Haynesworth and Shanahan could not be repaired.
Last offseason, Haynesworth balked at playing in the 3-4 defense and did not participate in the team's off-season program, including mini-camps and OTAs.
Haynesworth showed up to training camp but he was prohibited from practicing until he could pass the team's conditioning test.
Once the regular season started, Haynesworth developed a role in the defense's nickel package as a pass rusher. He had some success in that role, posting 21 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 20 quarterback hurries.
His situation escalated last week as the Redskins prepared to face the Giants in a pivotal NFC East game at the Meadowlands.
Was the suspension fair?
"I don't know," Rogers replied. "I can't answer that question."
Rogers said that Haynesworth's departure would not impact the defense except in nickel packages. He did not play on first and second downs, so players were already acclimated to playing without him on many downs.
"He has not been a distraction for me," Rogers said. "It's more you get [asked] so many questions and you talk about it, but on Sundays when I'm playing, I'm out there covering a receiver whether Albert's there or not. I'm not focused on what he's doing."
Added defensive lineman Kedric Golston: "Once you get in practice and in meetings, everybody has a job to do and everybody has a role, so you take care of what you can take care of. Nobody can control any other person in this business. All you can control is yourself."
Where does Haynesworth go from here?
It seems unlikely that he would return to the Redskins in 2011.
McNabb was at the center of Terrell Owens suspension in 2005 when both were part of the Philadelphia Eagles organization.
His thoughts: "It all depends on Albert as a player and a person. In certain situations, you have to put the adversity and some of the decisions you've made in the past and move on. I think you have to learn from your mistakes."