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Antwaan Randle El Discusses His Ex-Teammate, Now Coach

Posted by Matt Terl on February 2, 2010 – 3:52 pm

It’s been noted that the Redskins have something of a history of hiring their coaches’ sons; apparently the current regime is instituting a new tradition: hiring the players’ ex-teammates to coach them. It seems a little unusual to me, but it works out well for blogging purposes.

I’ve already talked to Mike Williams about Kyle Shanahan, with whom he and Derrick Dockery were college teammates. Today’s announcement of Keenan McCardell as new wide receivers coach meant that I was able to ask Antwaan Randle El about the above picture of McCardell apparently doing the whole “coach on the field” thing during his 2007 final stint with the Redskins.
“Yeah, he was a coach on the field,” Randle El told me. “Now that I’m thinking about it, he may have been like that a long time in his career, not just recently. Just an old school professional. He’s gonna encourage you, gonna tell you these different things of how you should do it, what would be a good way of running a route or getting in a stance and that kind of thing.”

McCardell’s defining characteristic as a player, according to Randle El, was “professionalism. He’s one of those guys that got out and made sure he was ready to go. He knew his assignments and that kinda thing. One of the things was that when he came in, he didn’t come in as ‘I’m this big shot that’s been in the NFL for a long time,’ he didn’t come in to try to overshadow anybody else. He just came in to fit in and to be productive, and that’s exactly what he was.”

All of which makes McCardell sound like a quiet, contemplative guy — which is not what he looks like in that picture. “Oh, he’s got some fire,” Randle El said. “Offense not moving? He’s gonna get after somebody, including the coaches.” This made him laugh. “Now he’s the coach, so we can get after him.”

When I talked to Williams about Shanahan, he was pretty emphatic that there was nothing unusual about the situation. (“It’s just the way it is,” he said.)

Randle El was not quite so sanguine. “Two years ago,” he said, shaking his head. “It is a little weird. But when you have guys who understand the game — not just, ‘let’s get on offense or cheer on the defense’ or whatever, but guys who understand the game completely — what it takes to get prepared for the game, the offseason minicamps and training camps and all that, and a guy who’s played the game … that goes a long way.”

Still, he said, the fact that McCardell is his coach (and that another former teammate, James Thrash, is involved with player development) “doesn’t make me feel old. It just continues to show that the guys who play in this league are gonna continue to be involved in this league in some way.”

And, most importantly, Randle El thinks that McCardell will be an asset as a coach. “I think the young guys will take to him ’cause Santana [Moss] and I are taking to him. He’s been here, played here, won a Super Bowl here — he’s got a lot that he’s bringing to the table.”

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