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Shar’s Star Gets a Little Tarnish

September 5, 1996

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) _ Leave it to reality to wreck a fairy tale.

Shar Pourdanesh, who rose from bullied Iranian teenager to Canadian Football League star to a starter in his NFL first game, has been demoted in the latest Washington Redskins offensive line shuffle.

Joe Patton, who felt short-changed when he didn’t get the starting job after training camp, is back at the top of the depth chart for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at RFK Stadium.

``It’s his job now,″ said Pourdanesh, who struggled against Eagles defensive end Mike Mamula in last week’s 17-14 loss to Philadelphia. ``I was disappointed with my performance, and I’m still disappointed with my performance, but whatever’s best for the team.″

Pourdanesh impressed coaches from the first day of training camp, and the story of how he was taunted as a teenager in California after his family fled Iran made him a local celebrity.

In retrospect, offensive line coach Jim Hanifan said it was probably too much to ask expect Pourdanesh to hold his own against the league’s top rushers so soon.

``He had responded well in preseason games, but that’s water under the bridge,″ Hanifan said. ``He did a lot of good things, so I can’t say that I’m totally disappointed, but I think he’s going to wind up being a darn good football player for us.″

Mamula got two sacks and forced a fumble Sunday, and the entire line had numerous mental and physical breakdowns as Washington generated only 220 yards.

That reopened the door for Patton, a third-round 1994 draft pick who started 13 games last season after Jim Lachey went down with a shoulder injury.

Patton and Pourdanesh were battling for the starting job at this year’s camp until Patton was moved to right guard because of injuries to Bob Dahl and Brian Thure.

When Dahl returned, Patton found himself listed at four positions _ both tackles and both guards _ as a backup. The starting five had been established, and Patton’s versatility got him nowhere but a place on the bench.

``I felt I really wanted to get in there, but they had other ideas,″ Patton said. ``And they went with them.

``They were trying to go out there and see how an offensive line could jell together,″ he said. ``I don’t think they wanted to break up the chemistry, which was fine by me because I understood what they were doing. If I hadn’t understood what they were doing, it would have been a lot tougher.″

Coach Norv Turner didn’t say outright who would start against Chicago, but Patton is getting most of the snaps with the first team in practice.

And Patton is already talking confidently about facing Chicago’s blitzing linebacker, Bryan Cox, who gave Dallas offensive linemen such a hard time in Monday’s victory over the Cowboys.

``He stands up a lot when he rushes,″ Patton said. ``If you wait on him, you can block him.″

Pourdanesh, meanwhile, is putting things in context. Only a month ago, he would have been thrilled just to make the team. He now admits his star value probably rose too quickly.

``I think that’s what happened,″ Pourdanesh said. ``The first three preseason games I played pretty darn good, then against New England and Philadelphia, I just started choking. So I got to look at it this way: `Was I mentally ready?′ ″

Notes: Marc Logan, who hasn’t played since sustaining a minor fracture in his back in the opening exhibition game, will start at fullback Sunday. Rookie free agent Larry Bowie played against the Eagles and caught one pass out of the backfield for three yards. ... Turner said he will decide Sunday whether Dexter Nottage or Sterling Palmer starts at left defensive end. Palmer was inactive for the Eagles game with an injured foot.

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