When Donte Stallworth signed with New England last offseason, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told him he’d made a mistake. Shanahan was smiling when he said that today. But Shanahan admitted he did not want to lose Stallworth a year ago.
He’ll likely have him back, at least for training camp. Stallworth is participating in the Redskins minicamp practices this week and, barring a setback, he’ll be signed.
“I’m just glad to be back out here,” Stallworth said.
He should be. Last year was a tough one for Stallworth, who was cut in training camp by the Patriots. They re-signed him later in the season and, in December, he caught his only pass of the season – a 63-yard touchdown grab. But he also hurt his ankle and spent the rest of the season on injured reserve.
Then, in the offseason, he was involved in a hot air balloon crash near Miami. Stallworth and a friend, Soleil Guerrero, were in a balloon that crashed into power lines. Stallworth said he felt waves of electricity through his body at that moment. According to the Boston Globe, Stallworth said he felt death approaching.
“In that moment, I thought my eyes would close and I’d never wake up again,” Stallworth said.
He and Guerrero both were on fire. The Globe reported that Stallworth told friend Wes Welker, “imagine the hardest hit you’ve ever taken and multiply that by 1,000.” Stallworth kept his friend calm after they hit the ground. Paramedics eventually airlifted them to a trauma center.
“Once the doctors cleared me I got right back to working out,” Stallworth said. “I was sitting around on my butt for two to three weeks; I couldn’t do anything. I had to let the burns heal. It took a while for me to feel like myself again. Once I felt like myself, my confidence came back and three weeks later I got the phone call [from the Redskins].”
Now he’s just waiting for a contract. The hard part is knowing where Stallworth would fit. The Redskins have depth at receiver with starters Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss and Aldrick Robinson. And Stallworth is not a special teams player. But he would provide insurance if the Redskins suffer injuries during camp.
“I was happy to see him out there [Tuesday],” Shanahan said. “He made plays, he looked good. I would say right now after today we’ll see where he’s at, but he impressed me today.”