Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said the former LSU star was one of many players, including a few other quarterbacks, who were getting a look from the team.
"We'll evaluate him and everyone else out there," Shanahan said.
The Redskins routinely invite out-of-work players for workouts on Tuesdays, but the timing of Russell's visit only added to the team's quarterback drama of the last few days. McNabb's benching raised questions about the six-time Pro Bowl player's future with the team, and coach Mike Shanahan added to the confusion by offering varying explanations for the decision.
Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, was released in May after three disappointing seasons with the Raiders. He regressed on the field, was fined for being overweight and was criticized by the coaching staff for his work ethic.
Kyle Shanahan praised Russell's talents, but said the other factors do come into consideration when evaluating a player.
"I don't think you consider anyone just based off of talent," Kyle Shanahan said. "Everyone in the NFL's pretty talented. (It's) other stuff that really separates you. He is very talented, so I think he can overcome some of the stuff that he struggled with. I don't really know that personally, but if he looks like he's in good shape out here and he's working, and that's all you can evaluate. Sometimes when guys do get a second opportunity, they can change their stripes."
On Day 3 of the Redskins' attempt to explain the benching of McNabb, the head coach's son gave it a try.
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."
The best news for the Redskins was everyone then skidaddled out of town for an off 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 a minute. Both Mike Shanahan and McNabb have indicated that McNabb wasn't tipped off that he could be taken out. McNabb even said he wouldn't want to know something like that because it would be just one more thing to weigh on his mind.
McNabb, making his weekly appearance on ESPN980, was asked to respond to Kyle Shanahan's version of events.
"I didn't hear that part. ... We had a conversation of just the injuries that I have, being a little banged up," McNabb said. "Maybe getting an opportunity to rest up for the long haul. But I didn't hear the word 'benching' or anything to that effect."
Otherwise, McNabb did his best to bite his tongue and keep his sense of humor about the whole affair. When he limped into the locker room yes, those 33-year-old hamstrings are noticeably bothering him he jokingly interrupted an interview with rookie receiver Anthony Armstrong by asking: "How's your cardiovascular endurance?"
Earlier, McNabb told reporters he could have finished the game and was upset that was pulled. He was asked about playing hurt.
"My team relies on me being there. I want to be there for my team," McNabb said. "If I can't walk, then I can't go. That's just the way I play, no matter if you're banged up or what, you've got to be in there."
McNabb declined to criticize Mike Shanahan saying: "Coach makes his decisions."
McNabb's struggles in his first year under a new offense have been greater than expected he's having his worst season statistically since becoming a full-season starter in 2000 but he said he finds it insulting to answer questions about his work ethic.
"You can ask these guys how I work and my work ethic," McNabb said. "My work ethic has never been a question. My tempo has never been a question."
Indeed, Kyle Shanahan said McNabb has "perfect work habits."
"He's what I expected," Kyle Shanahan said. "Now, us as a whole offense, we're not playing like I expected. That starts with me. It's him. It's the other 10 guys on the field. I would like us to get better. I would like him to get better."
McNabb has seven touchdown passes, eight interceptions and a 76.0 rating sub-par numbers through eight games. He's also been sacked 22 times, second most in the league, and his contract expires at the end of the season.
On his radio show, McNabb said there was a "100 percent" chance he would be quarterbacking the Redskins next season, but it was really the only answer he could give.
"If I would have said 75 or 60," McNabb said. "it would have been another big story."