Detroit's loss, Washington's gain?

The Redskins aren't concerned with why Detroit wanted to trade Brenden Stai, less than a year after he was named their best offensive lineman. They just want him to play like he did last season. But one Lions official wonders if he still can. This coach said it seemed as if Stai had lost a step and almost seemed to age on the field overnight.

''For whatever reason it looks like he's aging quickly,'' the coach said. ''It looks like he was a step behind. And for whatever reason he's lost his luster here.''

That's why Detroit deemed him expendable, in addition to his hefty contract (five years, $9.72 million and $2.75 million bonus). The Lions also signed Ray Brown last week and like young guards Tony Semple and Tyronne Hopson.

Another reason the Lions felt they could trade Stai is that he's not as mobile as the other linemen. In the West Coast offense, mobility is important. Stai is more of a mauler type, one who can plow forward but not side-to-side, as blocking schemes in the West Coast require.

All this doesn't mean Stai is a bad pickup. But it makes you wonder why anyone would surrender someone who is considered a solid guard. After all, this is Stai's fifth team and fourth team in three years.

The Lions coach said Stai could come in and help Washington, comparing him to Jay Leeuwenberg, who played here two years ago. Thing is, the more he played the worse he looked.

''Brendan's a good worker,'' the coach said. ''He's not a lazy guy. They just lost their expectations for him here and they have other options. For the money he got last year, he didn't live up to that. Heck, we won only two games. It seems like everywhere he goes they're happy to get him and happy to get rid of him.''

Stai is a better option than the other names bandied about, none of which were ever realistic. There was no way Washington was going to pursue Glenn Parker or John Fina.

At least Stai can step in and start at right guard, which he'll do immediately. That means Ross Tucker, David Loverne, Kipp Vickers and Rod Jones will battle for the left guard spot, which might not be settled until into the season.

But, at least for now, the Redskins think they've found at least one solution at guard. Even if he comes with mixed reviews.



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