Redskins cut Neil Rackers, trade Kevin Barnes


Fourth-year kicker Graham Gano (4) earned the Redskins starting job after veteran Neil Rackers was cut on Monday. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
August 27, 2012

The Washington Redskins released place kicker Neil Rackers Monday, awarding their place-kicking duties to Graham Gano for now, traded cornerback Kevin Barnes to the Detroit Lions and cut another 13 players.

Washington also designated injured offensive tackle Jammal Brown for the regular season physically unable to perform list after he again underwent surgery on his right hip Thursday. He will spend the first six weeks of the season on the PUP list.

NFL teams were required to trim rosters from 90 players to 75 to complete the first round of cuts by the 4 p.m. deadline.

Rackers, a 13-year veteran, was signed during the offseason to battle with Gano for the place-kicking duties. He and Gano — who is entering his fourth NFL season — battled during training camp and the preseason, with neither seeming to hold a significant advantage.

Rackers attempted the only two field goals of the preseason two weeks ago, making one inside 30 yards and missing a 54-yarder.

Gano successfully converted extra point attempts, but has not had a chance to kick a field goal.

“Graham won the statistical battle in practice and in games, and that’s why he’s on our team,” Coach Mike Shanahan said.

In 2011, Gano hit 31 of 41 field goal attempts. Five of those misses were blocks. The Redskins struggled all season with protection schemes.

Gano, who beat out veteran kicker Shayne Graham for the kicking duties last season, set a franchise record when he nailed a 59-yard field goal last season. But he has often drawn criticism for his misses.

“I don’t think it’s fair on those blocks,” Shanahan said of the criticism. “I don’t think it’s fair at all. Now, if it’s a low kick, obviously, he’s going to get some criticism for that. But those blocks weren’t his fault.”

Although Gano did not attempt a field goal in a game this preseason, Shanahan believed that he had seen enough to decide between the two kickers.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time. If we thought one game was going to be the difference, then we would’ve waited until the end of the game,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, we didn’t feel like the game would’ve been any difference at all, looking at those stats . . . Graham’s got a strong leg and a lot of ability, and hopefully he has a good season.”

The Barnes trade means the departure of a defensive back who regularly contributed last year. Barnes served as the team’s third cornerback last season, recording 26 tackles, two interceptions and four pass breakups in 15 games. He was competing for the same role this season, but he apparently lost that position battle to seven-year veteran Cedric Griffin, who signed as a free agent during the offseason.

The Redskins originally told Barnes he would be released, but later Monday morning he learned the team reached agreement to send him to Detroit for an undisclosed draft pick.

Brown has yet to take the field after re-injuring his right hip on the eve of training camp while running sprints. It’s the same hip that was surgically repaired in 2009 to fix a labrum. Brown traveled to New York during the first week of August to have his hip checked and the prognosis was that he didn’t need surgery. He received two cortisone shots in the joint in the last month, but experienced no relief. A re-examination revealed that he had a torn ligament in the hip.

After Brown’s six weeks on the PUP list, the Redskins have a three-week window when they can evaluate Brown and decide whether to activate him, place him on injured reserve or release him.

The Redskins also released quarterback Jonathan Crompton, running backs Antwon Bailey and Lennon Creer, offensive linemen Chris Campbell, James Lee, Tony Moll and Nick Martinez, linebacker Monte Lewis, wide receivers Lance Lewis and Sam Kirkland, tight end Beau Reliford and cornerback Morgan Trent.

That puts the Redskins at 75 players. The team has to trim the roster to 53 players by 9 p.m. on Friday.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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