By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Safety Sean Taylor was not present for the start of the Washington Redskins' offseason practices yesterday, but Coach Joe Gibbs said he expects the second-year player to be on hand next month for the mandatory minicamp. Taylor has not returned numerous calls from his coaches, and Gibbs said he is unsure why he is not here but that his absence is not related to his contract.
When asked if the Redskins had been given assurances from Taylor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, that Taylor would attend a mandatory camp June 17-19, Gibbs said, "I would be in shock if he missed something that was mandatory."
Previously, Gibbs stated that he believed Taylor's absence was related to concerns about his contract. But the team has since sent salary cap specialist Eric Schaffer to Miami to meet with Rosenhaus, and Redskins officials say they are now certain that the contract is not the reason Taylor has remained in Florida. Gibbs said Rosenhaus has been reluctant to divulge details about Taylor's decision not to come to Redskins Park, but running back Clinton Portis reiterated his belief that the safety, who was a rookie last year, is burned out from football.
"He's doing the proper training" in Florida, said Portis, who speaks with Taylor regularly, "and when he gets here -- whenever that is -- he knows what his responsibility is going to be. I know he'll be here for training camp."
While Taylor's absence was unexcused and disappointed Gibbs, wide receiver Rod Gardner was not expected to be here as the team continues to try to trade him. Gibbs said there is still hope for a trade -- although Gardner's prolonged stint on the trading block points to the contrary. Asked about the possibility of releasing Gardner and saving $2.1 million toward the salary cap, Gibbs said, "We've considered all options and we're going to try to do what we think is best for the team."
Linebackers LaVar Arrington (knee surgery), Marcus Washington (back surgery) and Mike Barrow (knee tendinitis), and defensive tackle Brendan Noble (knee infection) are missing these no-pad practices; return man Chad Morton, whose season was ended by knee surgery, was not cleared to participate, Gibbs said.
Arrington is again visiting with James Andrews in Birmingham with hopes of being ready for July training camp. Barrow is working with specialists in Arizona after missing all of last season with knee ailments. Gibbs said Barrow is likely to begin his rehabilitation at Redskins Park soon, although no date has been set for a return.
The Redskins signed free agent linebackers Warrick Holdman and Brian Allen to add depth to an injury-depleted position, and Gibbs said both players will work at middle linebacker, which was weakened by the departure of starter Antonio Pierce and Barrow's injury. On offense, the team continues to work on the shotgun, a formation Gibbs shunned in the past, and is implementing more stretch plays with zone blocking, better suited to Portis and akin to how he played in Denver after the Redskins tried to be a power running team at the start of last season.
"We were set on being a smash-mouth team," Portis said. "That's what we wanted to go out and do. Unfortunately, that didn't win us a lot of games, so we changed a few things up."
Redskins Notes: The Redskins had interest in free agent linebacker Peter Boulware, but with the team just $1.5 million under the salary cap, his asking price is too steep. "I would say we probably got ruled out," Gibbs said. . . . Tight end David Kashetta was waived yesterday. Gibbs said punter Tom Tupa was excused from practice for personal reasons.