ASHBURN - Deep into his Wednesday press conference, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan was able to summarize his feelings on the suspensions of his two best offense players, Trent Williams and Fred Davis, in succinct fashion.
"Am I disappointed in them?", the coach asked rhetorically. "Big time."
Disappointment was the buzzword of the day at Redskins Park, one in which talk centered around another off-field drama rather than on their upcoming opponent, the New England Patriots.
"I think our whole team feels let down," Shanahan said. "There's no question about it. Everybody should feel let down. Everybody's accountable for what they do. "
The morning started with Williams and Davis addressing their teammates in a team meeting, apologizing to them for failing multiple drug tests and being suspended for the rest of the season.
"They talked to us today in the team meeting, letting us know that they're remorseful and apologetic about it." said quarterback Rex Grossman. "They feel bad enough. It's a tough situation for them."
By all accounts, their apology felt genuine.
"They were men enough today to talk to the team and say ‘Hey, we did screw up, and we promise you it won't happen again. " Shanahan recalled. "We will find out in the future if they're true to their word."
"They messed up," added veteran receiver Santana Moss. "[I'm] pretty sure a lot of guys make mistakes, and pretty sure they'll learn from it. [It's] something that you would hope that they'd never have to deal with this kind of situation ever again."
It's a tough situation not only because Williams and Davis' seasons are over, but because their suspensions are yet another blow to an already struggling offense. Washington's offense had already lost four starters due to injury for the season. With this latest news, that number is now up to six.
"The way the season's been going, we hadn't been winning a lot of games," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "So we need as much firepower as we can get. It's going to be tough [without them], but the show must go on."
"It's tough," Moss echoed. "Especially when you're young, especially when you're a guy like Fred having one of the years he's having, especially a guy like Trent, only in his second year and has the potential to be one of the best tackles in this game."
While the big picture for Williams and Davis looks very cloudy, the fact of the matter is that there is a game to be played Sunday against New England. The team will likely have reserve Sean Locklear take Williams place at left tackle and backup Logan Paulsen take over for Davis. Not exactly murderers row.
On a team whose season was already spiraling out of control due to on-field issues, the latest off-field drama to hit Ashburn has much longer lasting effects than the last four weeks of the 2011 season. Should Davis or Williams be caught once again, they would be subject to a one-year suspension by the NFL. And with Davis entering free agency come March, it isn't likely he'll be at the top of teams' shopping lists.
As for Williams, Shanahan's first draft pick in Washington, he has three more years under contract, so he's not going anywhere. The question for the talented left tackle out of Oklahoma is whether or not this will be the end of the line for his use of banned substances.
With the two of them being down to their last strike, the organization is hoping that this is the last straw.
"Are they smart enough to go down the right path?" Shanahan wondered aloud. "I'm hoping they do."