Washington Redskins bubble players spent Thursday awaiting their fate as the team’s coaches and front office members conducted evaluations and decided which 22 prospects they would cut by Friday night’s 9 p.m. deadline.
Players had Thursday off from practice but were told to expect news. As of Thursday evening, though, it appeared that the 40-something players whose futures hung in the balance had yet to be notified of their status. And so, the waiting continued.
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“You just kind of keep the phone nearby,” third-year wide receiver Anthony Armstrong said after Wednesday night’s preseason finale — the last audition for roster hopefuls — as he prepared to wait out cut-down day. “You hope you don’t see that 703 number from Redskins Park come up. But, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Usually, no news is good news.”
Armstrong is one of the players believed to be on the bubble despite spending the past two seasons on Washington’s roster. He opened training camp having to battle for a spot on an upgraded receiver unit. The Redskins’ second-leading wideout in 2010, he figured to be a key piece to the puzzle last season, but after pulling a hamstring and missing time early in the season, he never recaptured his form.
Armstrong watched as the Redskins signed free agent receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan this past offseason, and he entered training camp fifth on the depth chart behind the two additions and holdovers Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss.
A partially separated shoulder – suffered on a hard fall during the second week of camp — sidelined Armstrong for two preseason games, and he only got onto the field for one snap in the third matchup.
He entered Wednesday’s contest needing to prove to coaches that he could still make plays both on offense and on special teams, where he previously contributed as a gunner on the punt and kickoff units.
Armstrong delivered with two catches for 61 yards, with a 46-yard bomb caught over the shoulder with a defensive back blanketing him served as the highlight.
“You hope that it shines enough in the coaches’ minds that they want to keep you around,” Armstrong said. “You hope so. It was unfortunate to have the shoulder injury in training camp and then miss a lot of time and have to get back into football shape. But hopefully a strong performance tonight and limited action last week helps out. And hopefully the stuff from the past weighs heavily in their minds, too.”
Armstrong noted how the depth at his position had improved since he arrived in Washington. He made the roster in 2010 as part of a receiving corps that included ineffective, aging veterans such as Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams, who posted a combined 20 catches for 282 yards that year. Two years later, the landscape included Armstrong, Dezmon Briscoe (who led Tampa Bay with six touchdowns last season and recorded two touchdowns in the preseason), promising young holdovers Aldrick Robinson (eight catches for 132 yards and a touchdown this preseason), Terrence Austin (five catches, 52 yards; 25.2 yards per kick return) and speedy return man Brandon Banks (91-yard punt return for a touchdown and three catches for 54 yards) all battling for the final two spots on the unit.