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Two Sides

I would love to sit in on one of the many private coach-player meetings that go on in pro sports. 'Cause it seems like no matter who the coach is or who the player is, something's always lost in translation. On this beat alone, I've seen it happen with Patrick Ramsey, Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner, Fred Smoot, Antonio Pierce, LaVar Arrington, Ryan Clark, and now, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright. There really are two sides to every story and multiple interpretations of how things went down.

Take Wednesday as an example. The CMB - collective media bozos, Ashburn chapter - pushed Coach Joe time and again about the arrival of TJ Duckett (not to be confused with DJ Duckett, who made a brief yet inspired appearance on this very blog yesterday), and he assured us time and again that Rock and Ladell had been briefed extensively about the trade Tuesday night, understood their place on the team, knew where they stood and were made to feel wanted.

But that's not what we heard from them. They were shocked and stunned. They said they were unsure and confused. They said they did not know what Duckett's role would be or why specifically he was acquired. They expressed some doubt over their future with the club.

So, when Gibbs spoke to us later Wednesday night, of course the CMB brought up the topic time and again, trying to clarify as much as possible. We probably inquired about it too much, because by the time I framed a question about the Duckett deal being a precursor to any a future trade involving a running back, he let me know it was the fourth time he had essentially addressed the question, and that all of the RBs - Portis, Duckett, Ladell, Betts - as well as FB Mike Sellers would make the team, and have a solid role with the club.

I know these coach-player conversations must always be difficult for all parties, and I can understand how things can be heard differently based on mindset, timing, etc. I don't think there's any blame to go around or anything like that. I just think it's an interesting study in human dynamics and interaction, because inevitably the reactions of the sides to the same conversation are different.

Coach Joe was pretty straightforward about carrying at least 5 RB/FBs, which would be roughly 10 percent of the opening day roster. And the implication was that all would be active, too, given they import to the team. Betts and Duckett are also in the final year of their deals, so who gets a long-term deal and who doesn't - could they both? - bears monitoring as well.

In the end, though, the Skins come out of loaded with talent if short on draft picks. That hasn't bothered them before and won't now, either.

By Jason La Canfora  |  August 24, 2006; 11:30 AM ET
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