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Players Say They Have Confidence In McNabb


Standing on the sideline of Ford Field, left guard Kory Lichtensteiger learned that Rex Grossman – and not Donovan McNabb – would quarterback the Redskins in the final 1:45 of Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

Lichtensteiger digested the news, but he put it aside quickly.

With the Redskins down 31-25, he had a job to do.

Ramifications would have to be dealt with later.

"We thought we were going to go win the game," Lichtensteiger said. "We were kind of questioning what was going on, but that's not really our job to try to figure out what the coaches are thinking. We didn't know if [McNabb] was injured.

"We were still in position that we could go and win the game, and that's what we were thinking."

The move backfired, as Grossman was sacked on his first play from scrimmage and lost grasp of the football. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh recovered the fumble and ran 17 yards for a game-clinching touchdown.

On Monday, in the Redskins locker room, several players were still surprised about McNabb's benching, even if it was temporary.

Head coach Mike Shanahan said that McNabb remains the Redskins' starter.

"Initially, I thought Donovan hurt himself, but Coach Shanahan made a decision and you just accept it and go forward," linebacker London Fletcher said. "From day one, Coach Shanahan said he was going to do what he could to put us in position to win ball games."

Added defensive end Phillip Daniels: "With all the comebacks Donovan has had in his career, it surprised me. But as players, we don't make decisions. Donovan handled it well. He'll be all right."

Fletcher, like McNabb, is a Redskins team captain. He acknowledged that it had to be difficult for McNabb to watch the final minutes from the sidelines.

"I imagine it would be extremely hard at any position, particularly the quarterback position which is the most important position on the football field," Fletcher said. "Donovan is a 12-year player and a perennial Pro Bowl player. He's done a lot of good things in this league. I'm sure he and Coach Shanahan have talked about it."

Fletcher and cornerback DeAngelo Hall emphasized the team still had confidence in McNabb.

McNabb is a 12-year veteran who guided the Philadelphia Eagles to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl XXXIX berth before being traded to the Redskins last April.

"Donovan has done a lot of good things for us these first eight ball games to allow us to be where we're at, which is 4-4," Fletcher said. "Let's not lose sight of that. Any of the ballgames that we've won, he has definitely played a huge role."

Said Hall: "I'm definitely confident in him. We know the reason we've been winning games and he's a big part of it."

For his part, Grossman said little had changed in terms of how he views his role with the team.

"It's going to create a lot of things for [media] to write about, but the situation is what it is," Grossman said. "Donovan's the starter. He's a potential future Hall of Famer. Everybody's got a lot of confidence in him, and I'll be ready to go if needed as well."

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