Trade Stuns Players

One considered it a slap in the face. Another said he didn't understand it. Even the starter was confused by what the Redskins did today.

The trade for T.J. Duckett might give the Redskins more depth at running back, not to mention a powerful short-yardage runner. But it also leaves Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright and Mike Sellers and even Clinton Portis wondering about what it means for them.

Portis' shoulder is said to be ahead of schedule, which means he should be ready for the Sept. 11 season opener. But even he is not yet predicting that. And nobody knows if the shoulder will be healthy all year.

"It causes you to think," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said.

The trade would relieve Portis of some extra pounding on his shoulder. But he didn't think the Redskins needed another runner.

"I'm a bruiser, too," he said. "To have that complement come in and having a bigger back come in for myself, Ladell and Rock means more competition for all of us. We are going to have to step our level of play up and it is going to be the toughest guy on the field."

Betts and Cartwright stand the most to lose. Betts is the primary backup, but this would have to take carries away from him. But he's much better in the passing game than Duckett and Gibbs said both he and Cartwright would make the final roster.

"I was shocked," Betts said. "I don't understand it. I don't know what his role is, so I can't take it as a slap in the face."

Know this: Betts is in the final year of his contract. It's hard to imagine he's anything but disappointed by the move.

Cartwright was. However, it's equally hard to imagine anyone feeling more comfortable with him as a backup runner than Duckett, should anything happen to Portis.

"It's kind of like a slap in the face," he said. "It's a shock, but what can I do about it."

Even Sellers wondered how this would affect him, though Gibbs said it doesn't. And he says this move was as simple as "adding another good player."

If Portis' shoulder injury lingers and Duckett provides enough help to make a difference, this will turn out to be a deal no one can argue. For now, it just leaves many wondering what it means.

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