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NFL notes: McNabb story grows stranger

Redskins’ Donovan McNabb, top, was surprised at being benched against Kyle Vanden Bosch and Lions. (Associated Press)
Redskins’ Donovan McNabb, top, was surprised at being benched against Kyle Vanden Bosch and Lions. (Associated Press)

On Day 3 of the Washington Redskins’ attempt to explain the benching of Donovan McNabb, the head coach’s son gave it a try. He was doing a decent job – until he threw in a new wrinkle that only added to the confusion.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday that McNabb was told in advance of the possibility of getting pulled from the game if coaches felt the veteran quarterback was struggling.

McNabb went on the radio and immediately claimed otherwise, saying: “I didn’t hear that part.”

And, by the way, this just happened to be the day the Redskins decided to bring in JaMarcus Russell for a workout. The former Oakland Raiders quarterback was one of many out-of-work players getting a look from the coaching staff.

The best news for the Redskins was everyone then took off for a bye-week vacation. The five-day break is exactly what’s needed to settle things down after a dizzying 72 hours of quarterback drama that began when McNabb was pulled in the final 2 minutes of Sunday’s 37-25 loss to the Detroit Lions.

To recap: Mike Shanahan said immediately after Sunday’s game that McNabb was yanked because backup Rex Grossman had a better understanding of the team’s two-minute offense. On Monday, the coach shifted his focus, saying nagging hamstring injuries have kept McNabb from practicing at full speed and therefore created doubts as to whether the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback had the “cardiovascular endurance” to run a two-minute drill with no timeouts.

On Tuesday, Kyle Shanahan said perhaps his father’s words “came off wrong.” The son gave his play-by-play of how it all shook out.

“It came down to last week, when on Monday and Tuesday, because of his hamstring issues, we were deciding, that ‘Hey, this guy’s hurting, we know he won’t take himself out. We don’t think he should play. We’ve got to rest him up and get him better for the rest of the year,’ ” Kyle Shanahan said. “Donovan being the competitor that he is, came in and said, ‘I will rise to the occasion. I will play.’ And he talked us into it. And we said, ‘Hey, we understand, we’re going to let you go. If we do feel you’re struggling in the game – which we think it’s possible because you can’t practice full speed – then we’ll have to go in a different direction.’ ”

But wait. Both Mike Shan- ahan and McNabb indicated that McNabb wasn’t tipped off that he could be taken out.

“I didn’t hear that part,” McNabb said.

Around the league

Fresh off a fourth straight sellout at Wembley Stadium, NFL vice president of international business Chris Parsons is optimistic the league will be playing multiple regular- season games in Britain. … Two-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins reported to New England, ending a long holdout. … San Francisco center Eric Heitmann was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The 49ers added linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. … San Diego waived outside linebacker Shawne Merriman.

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