ASHBURN, Va. – Barely a day can go by without some sort of Washington Redskins drama, whether it's centered on the actions of quarterback Robert Griffin III, coach Mike Shanahan's future, the ongoing debate over the team's name or some other distraction.
At least it's not 2009.
Players who have been around a while have a firm reference point when it comes to Redskins dysfunction. This year's 3-7 feels nothing like the 4-12 of four years ago, when coach Jim Zorn's days were so obviously numbered that the front office brought in Sherm Lewis out of Bingo-calling retirement to call the offensive plays.
"There's not about to be some type of unraveling around here," linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher said.
Fletcher was more expansive than usual in his weekly meeting with reporters, sticking up for Griffin — who listened quietly from the adjacent locker — and reminding all that he's seen much worse.
"We don't have the type of locker room where we finger-point," Fletcher said. "I've been on teams where the minute that something goes wrong, guys start finger-pointing and the offense is blaming the defense, the defense is blaming the offense, and you're blaming this guy or that guy, this culture or that culture. We don't have that type of team."
That's not to say there haven't seen signs of discontent.
Receiver Joshua Morgan and tight end Fred Davis were far from thrilled when they went from starting to inactive, although their words reflected natural frustration and disappointment rather than defiant outburst.
Receiver Santana Moss sent ripples throughout the organization when he said this week that Griffin should take more ownership of mistakes, prompting a makeup meeting with the quarterback and proclamations that everyone was one the same page and the media was to blame.
"We're just laughing it off, to tell you the truth," receiver Pierre Garcon said. "The guys in the locker room are kind of taking it as a joke, what you guys are trying to make out of this locker room, trying to divide us up. But we expect it, we prepare for it, we have a great PR team that does a great job of telling us what not to say."
Coached up or not, players have also started making the case for Shanahan, who replaced Zorn after the 2009 season. With the record at 3-7, there is uncertainty as to whether Shanahan will be back for the final year of his contract.
"When you look at coach Shanahan and what he's been able to do around here, you talk about coming here and getting a culture changed, that's something that can't be discredited," Fletcher said. "The locker room wasn't a great locker room when he first got here. We had an older team, so we had to get some youth around here, we had to get some talent, had to get a quarterback."
Indeed, getting rid of the so-called bad apples has been one of Shanahan's most noteworthy accomplishments.
"We don't have any problems with the guys in our locker room," the coach said. "I think everybody expresses themselves a little bit differently. What may be perceived as something that might be a little bit negative, I can guarantee you it's not. We've got a good locker room."
Griffin said the 3-7 record is the "root of the issue," but he has vowed to remain upbeat.
"London said it today. I wasn't here in 2009 or any other seasons, but he said there's not a dismay amongst the team," Griffin said. "A lot of it is outside the team and we just can't let that penetrate us."
Griffin had a more serious demeanor this week, but he was an exception. Overall, the locker room appeared loose, as if the weight of expectations has been lifted now that the playoff hopes have faded. The Redskins will be home underdogs Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.
"You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take," fullback Darrel Young said. "So at this point we have nothing to lose. Just go out there and have fun."
Notes: WR Leonard Hankerson had surgery Thursday on his left knee and will need seven to nine months of recovery time. Doctors found that Hankerson had torn his ACL as well as his LCL. Hankerson was placed on injured reserve and was replaced by WR Lance Lewis, who was promoted from the practice squad. ... TE Jordan Reed (concussion) and DE Stephen Bowen (left knee) did not practice for the second straight day, while CB Josh Wilson (infected toe) and Young (strained hamstring) were limited. ... WR Josh Bellamy was signed to the practice squad.
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