By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday he has not spoken with Sean Taylor since the safety was arrested on felony assault charges in Miami over the weekend and has no plans to suspend Taylor for his off-field actions.
Taylor, 22, is accused of pulling a gun on two people he believed stole his all-terrain vehicles, and then assaulting one of them with his fist. Taylor is scheduled to be arraigned in Miami on June 24 on two felony counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and a charge of simple battery, a misdemeanor.
The Redskins announced Monday that Taylor would be excused from the team's June 17-19 minicamp, but is expected to be at Redskins Park when players report for training camp on July 31.
Gibbs said that should Taylor's legal issues drag into the season the team would not consider suspending him. "We have no plans for anything like that," Gibbs said. "What we're hoping right now is that Sean gets his personal situation squared away, and we're giving him time to do that and hopefully that's what's going to happen. We're hoping Sean gets it worked out for him and hopefully by the time we start the season."
Gibbs and his coaching staff have been trying to phone Taylor for much of the offseason, but he has not returned their calls. Gibbs said he has not attempted to call Taylor since this incident occurred last Wednesday, although he said he has been in regular contact with Taylor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Gibbs said Taylor has not called him.
While there are no plans for a face-to-face meeting with Taylor or his representatives, Gibbs said, it remains a possibility. "I've made no plans like that but I certainly wouldn't rule something like that out," Gibbs said. "At some point I'm sure we're going to get together here."
Gibbs said the team had no immediate plans to bolster its depth at Taylor's position because of his legal circumstances, but reiterated that the Redskins have been looking at safeties already -- free agent safety Cory Hall was signed recently, only to retire a few days later -- and would continue pursuing players at all positions. "I wouldn't say it specifically because of Sean's deal, but I wouldn't rule out anything at any spot and we have looked at safeties," Gibbs said.
While the Redskins practiced yesterday for the first time since Taylor's arrest, prosecutors began what a source in the Dade County State Attorney's Office called "the early evaluation stage" of the case.
The felony screening department of the State Attorney's Office will conduct a pre-file conference next Tuesday in which police involved in the arrest as well as witnesses will be interviewed to determine if there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Taylor committed the crimes he is charged with. Roughly one-third of all felony charges in Dade County are dropped before going to trial, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
If Taylor were convicted of a felony count of aggravated assault with a firearm, certain three-year or 10-year minimum mandatory sentences from Florida's 10-20-LIFE Law potentially could be applicable in his case.
Redskins Notes: Free agent cornerback R.W. McQuarters, who was offered a contract by Washington and several other clubs, should choose his team in the next few days, Gibbs said. The Redskins have no other free agent visits planned for this week, Gibbs said. . . .
Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, spoke to Gibbs about the Redskins' reported violations in the organized team activity practices at Redskins Park yesterday. Gibbs said Upshaw agreed that one-on-one drills were allowed, but the intensity of Washington's practices is being investigated.
"We thought we were doing what we should do," Gibbs said.
"We're still gathering information," Upshaw said. . . .
Running back Clinton Portis, who has been in close contact with Taylor this offseason and spoke on his behalf on several occasions, said he was out of the country last weekend and has not talked to Taylor or any of their mutual acquaintances since the arrest. "I don't know nothing about nothing," Portis said. . . .
Bubba Tyer, the team's director of sports medicine, said injured linebacker Mike Barrow (knee) will return to Redskins Park next week for testing in hope of being cleared to participate in minicamp. Tyer said linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee surgery) is advancing in his rehabilitation, including treadmill and lateral training, and defensive lineman Brandon Noble (knee infection) must remain on oral antibiotics for two more weeks.