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Day Two at the combine: Shanahan & QBs

Day Two at the combine is a big one for us Redskins scribes. On Day One we met the offensive tackles. Today, coach Mike Shanahan is scheduled to host a news conference at 10:45 a.m., his first public comments to beat writers since Jan. 6. Hopefully the direction in which he wants to take the team begins to come into sharper focus.

And if that isn’t enough, the quarterbacks in this year’s draft class will also make the rounds in the media room throughout the day.

With that in mind, let me whet your appetite with what Notre Dame center Eric Olsen had to say yesterday about his quarterback, Jimmy Clausen.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper has projected that the Redskins will draft Clausen with the fourth-overall pick in April. One of the knocks on Clausen is a perceived lack of leadership skills. However, Olsen sees no problem there. Take his opinion for what it’s worth–he is, after all, a teammate and friend of Clausen–but he was quite passionate when he addressed the matter yesterday.

"I think he’s misunderstood by a lot of people because a lot of people think he’s this California kid that has a kind-of-off attitude, but that’s not the case at all," Olsen said. "As a teammate, he’s somebody I would definitely want in the huddle with me in the future. He’s a leader. Being the quarterback at Notre Dame, he’s in the spotlight. And especially with the seasons that we had the last few years, he’s had a ton of scrutiny. The way he’s handled it with such poise and composure has been great. It speaks volumes of his maturity and the kind of person he is."

Why is there a misperception, then?

"I think he came in as a high school recruit in a limo and stuff," Olsen said. "That kind of might have thrown a couple people off. But they don’t really know him. That’s just from the outside looking in."

Olsen was then asked for an example of Clausen’s leadership.

"There’s been numerous times in games where we might have been down, especially this year, late in the fourth quarter and guys, whether they want to admit it or not, were kind of rattled. He would come to the huddle and just take control and have that poise and be able to quiet everyone down and get everyone’s full attention and go down and score a game-winning drive. He’s done it numerous times this year."

Is there a difference between Clausen’s on-field and off-field leadership?

There’s definitely a difference, but he definitely has both of that," Olsen said. "To be able to be the kind of person he was on and off the field is something that’s tough to do, especially as a young guy, early 20s. To be able to handle all that pressure and be in that spotlight 24/7 is definitely a tough thing."