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Shanahan admits only Haynesworth was required to take conditioning test

After a pair of practices on Thursday, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan spoke about defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth’s failed conditioning test. He confirmed that Haynesworth was barred from team drills after flunking the test. The first-year coach of the team said that Haynesworth spent roughly 40 minutes on a treadmill while the team went through drills. Also, members of the coaching staff worked with Haynesworth to get him up to speed as to terminology, given that Haynesworth skipped the entire offseason program.

“The bottom line is that we’re going to get him in shape,” Shanahan said of the requirement that Haynesworth reportedly complete two 300-yard shuttle runs. “If he’s going to be on our football team and he’s going to play at the level we’d like him to play, then he’s got to be in great football shape. Hopefully he’ll get it done tomorrow, but it may take two or three days, it may take a week. I really don’t know. His weight is fine. We’ve just got to get that cardio at a certain level to make sure he doesn’t injure himself.”

Though Shanahan was more than willing to talk about Haynesworth’s level of conditioning, Shanahan wouldn’t say much about their conversations.

“I don’t go through our conversations together,” Shanahan said. “I think he knows that he’s got to pass this test. He’s got to work extremely hard to make sure that cardiovascular endurance is there, and when he does that, I feel very comfortable to put him on the field and let him compete for that position.”

We reported that Shanahan and Haynesworth had words after the failed test. Shanahan denied that there were words. (But he wasn’t connected to a polygraph when he said it, so we don’t necessarily believe him.)

“Obviously when I say I’m not going to share the conversation I had, that means I’m not going to share the conversation I had,” Shanahan said. “But there were no words. Albert was first class all the way. He understood where I was coming from and understands that he’s got to be at a certain level to go out on the field and practice with the rest of that football team. If he gets there then he’ll be with us and if he doesn’t, he won’t.”

That’s all well and good, but Shanahan pushed it too far by trying to explain why Haynesworth and not other players were required to pass the test.

“That’s exactly right, and that’s part of being in the offseason program,” Shanahan said. “You don’t have to take the test. There’s a certain percentage of workouts that you’ve got to be here, and if you’re in that percentage, you don’t have to go through the conditioning test because we knew you’re in good shape. You had done this test in a lot of different running drills along the way.”

But it’s been more than a month since the offseason program ended. Even if every player could run two 300-yard shuttle runs in the middle of June, it doesn’t mean that they can do it now. And if the whole purpose, as Shanahan said, is to “keep a guy from getting hurt,” who’s to say that any of the other guys in camp are in appropriate condition to avoid an injury in training camp without, you know, testing their condition?

That’s what makes us think that Shanahan imposed the test in retaliation for Haynesworth boycotting the offseason program. In our view, Haynesworth could have eaten lightning and crapped thunder today, and Shanahan still would have found a way to fail him.

So while Haynesworth’s conduct during the offseason shameful, Shanahan is going about this the wrong way. And we plan to ride him about it just as hard as we rode Haynesworth.