The Washington Redskins put Pat White on the verge of completing his unlikely comeback to the NFL when they kept him on their roster Saturday as the team’s fourth quarterback.
The decision to retain White was the biggest attention-grabber as the Redskins made a series of moves to reduce their roster to 53 players, the limit for the regular season, by Saturday’s league-wide deadline. The Redskins also kept Evan Royster and Chris Thompson as reserve tailbacks behind starter Alfred Morris and top backup Roy Helu Jr. Thompson’s inclusion on the 53-man roster might signal he will be the team’s punt returner.
The group of players released by the Redskins included veteran tackle Tony Pashos, cornerback Chase Minnifield and former starting safety DeJon Gomes.
The roster is not necessarily set for the regular season, with further maneuvers possible before the Sept. 9 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. It is highly unusual for an NFL team to carry four quarterbacks on its roster, and it’s not clear how permanent White’s place on it is. But for now, at least, he remains in the fold behind starter Robert Griffin III, top backup Kirk Cousins and veteran third-stringer Rex Grossman.
White’s presence gives the Redskins further insurance with Griffin and Cousins coming off injuries. Griffin is expected to start the opener after being withheld from the entire preseason while working his way back from knee surgery in January. Cousins missed the final two preseason games because of a mid-foot sprain. In addition, White potentially could play the role of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in practices leading up to the game.
White was not available to comment, and the Redskins did not make Coach Mike Shanahan available. White played the entire game in the Redskins’ preseason finale Thursday night in Tampa. He threw an interception for a touchdown but also ran for a touchdown and completed 13 of 22 passes for 181 yards. White said after the game he was “getting ready to come to work on Saturday.”
He also said Thursday night: “I definitely want to continue playing the game. I have a lot of passion for it. I love it. I’ve been playing it for a while now. I took a little break, which was a huge mistake on my part. But everything happens for a reason. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity and happy that Coach gave me a chance.”
White played one season for the Miami Dolphins in 2009 after being drafted in the second round out of West Virginia. He was released by the Dolphins prior to the 2010 season and did not play in the NFL that season or during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He decided to try to return to pro football this year and drew interest from several teams before signing with the Redskins early in the offseason.
Thompson scored a touchdown on a 69-yard punt return Thursday. He becomes the favorite to inherit the team’s punt-returning duties from cornerback Richard Crawford, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the preseason. Royster also had a solid performance in the final preseason game, and he and Thompson were given the final two roster spots at tailback ahead of Keiland Williams, who suffered a shoulder injury Thursday night and was released Saturday with an injury settlement.
Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood were signed by the Redskins during the offseason to vie with Tyler Polumbus for the starting job at right tackle. But Polumbus never was seriously pushed, and Pashos joined Trueblood, who was released in the previous round of roster cuts, in failing to make the team. The Redskins kept only eight offensive linemen on the 53-man roster, with tackle Tom Compton and guards Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis as the backups. Guard Maurice Hurt was placed on the physically unable to perform list after spending training camp and the preseason on the camp version of the PUP list.
Minnifield once appeared to be the favorite to be the team’s fifth cornerback behind DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, rookie David Amerson and E.J. Biggers. Instead, that spot went to Jerome Murphy. Minnifield was waived and becomes a candidate to be re-signed to the practice squad Sunday. At safety, Jordan Pugh and Jose Gumbs secured the fourth and fifth roster spots — behind Brandon Meriweather, Bacarri Rambo and Reed Doughty — ahead of Gomes, who made eight starts for the Redskins over the previous two seasons.
Gomes thanked the Redskins on Twitter for the opportunity and wrote: “All business, nothing personal.”
Phillip Merling secured a roster spot as a reserve defensive end. Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and reserve linebacker Rob Jackson are suspended for the first four games of the season for violations of the NFL’s policy on banned performance-enhancing substances. The league took no action Saturday in the case of safety Tanard Jackson, who became eligible for reinstatement from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe was waived with an injury designation after hurting his shoulder Thursday. The Redskins kept only five wideouts on the roster: Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson.
The other players released by the team were running back Jawan Jamison; tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi; wide receivers Skye Dawson, Nick Williams and Lance Lewis; offensive linemen Xavier Nixon, Kevin Matthews and Tevita Stevens; defensive linemen Dominique Hamilton, Ron Brace and Chigbo Anunoby; and linebackers Will Compton, Marvin Burdette and Vic So’oto. The team waived running back Tristan Davis from the exempt-left team list and released cornerback Ryan Mouton and linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy from the injured reserve list.
More on the Redskins:
Redskins Insider: Position-by-position breakdown of the Redskins’ roster
Redskins Insider: Jackson eligible for reinstatement
What: Season opener
Where: FedEx Field
When: Sept. 9, 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN Radio: WTEM (980 AM)