By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 10, 2005
The NFL stripped the Washington Redskins of three workout days for violating league rules governing the intensity of offseason training, costing the team valuable practice time just before its June 17-19 minicamp, Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday.
Gibbs also revealed that he finally made contact with safety Sean Taylor, who was arrested on felony assault charges in Miami over the weekend.
"We kind of talked a little bit about the situation and everything, and just had kind of a personal conversation," Gibbs said. "And we're hoping the issues and everything are going to be cleared up and we're giving Sean time to work on this. He kind of told me what happened from his side of it, so we had a good talk."
Taylor had not returned numerous phone calls from Gibbs and his staff this offseason, but Gibbs has been in regular contact with Taylor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who participated in Wednesday's conference call with Taylor.
Taylor, 22, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, will be arraigned June 24 for allegedly pulling a gun on two people in Miami. Gibbs announced earlier this week that the defensive back would be excused from next week's minicamp to concentrate on his legal matters.
Gibbs said Rosenhaus had offered the opportunity to hold a conference call with Taylor, and he took the agent up on the offer. Gibbs said he did not broach the subject of why Taylor has not returned his calls, and declined to discuss the specifics of their conversation or say whether Taylor had apologized.
When asked if Taylor's legal woes could prompt the Redskins to alter his contract -- the team could reclaim a bulk of his bonuses under certain circumstances -- Gibbs said: "We're hoping the issues and problems get cleared up. I think going forward I don't think anyone can guess what's going to happen."
Rosenhaus was in Washington for a few days on unrelated business, and did not meet with Redskins officials while here, Gibbs said. Rosenhaus, who told ESPN on Wednesday that Taylor spoke recently with Redskins owner Dan Snyder, declined to comment on anything related to Taylor when reached on his cell phone yesterday.
Taylor has been the only unexcused absence from Washington's offseason training program at Redskins Park. The workout regimen is voluntary, though the team expects players to take part.
Gibbs informed the rest of the team about the NFL's sanctions before practice yesterday. Generally, teams incur penalties in the offseason when players complain to the union about the training sessions. The Redskins were investigated after officials of the NFL Players Association watched video of their practices that were made available on the team's Web site.
"We felt like we were operating the way we should," Gibbs said. "But after reviewing it they felt like our line drills were too physical. So we'll be missing some work next week."
The NFL told the team it would not be allowed to hold any workouts -- on the field or in the weight room -- for three days, beginning Monday and lasting through Wednesday. The players already had been given today off. The Redskins had planned to hold three additional organized team activities, or OTAs -- voluntary practices in which players can wear helmets but not pads and contact must be limited -- before a mandatory three-day minicamp begins next Friday. The OTAs had been scheduled for Monday through Wednesday. The Redskins will now only be allowed to have one, on Thursday.
Under the league's collective bargaining agreement, weekends are off days during the offseason, except during minicamp. Teams are allowed 14 OTA practices per offseason -- each can last no longer than two hours. The Redskins this year will end up having 12.
Gibbs emphasizes the importance of OTAs -- which include classroom and field time -- and did not anticipate losing any. "It's happened to other people," Gibbs said. "It's just something you deal with. It's an important time for us, but we're going to be missing some of that."
In May, the Philadelphia Eagles had to forfeit a week of their offseason program because of scheduling violations. Last year, the New York Giants lost two OTA days after players complained they were too long. During these punishments players are not allowed to come to the team's practice facility, save for those receiving medical treatment, but they are paid.
Gibbs said he has scaled back the team's offseason one-on-one drills following the NFL penalty. Last week, with the league investigation ongoing, Gibbs said he did not plan to change the drills because he had been using them since his first tenure as head coach in Washington and believed the Redskins complied with all league rules.
"They can [penalize teams] for up to a week, and I think it caught all of us by surprise," said wide receiver James Thrash, one of the Redskins' union representatives. "But we're all professionals and we've gotten some awesome work done in these 11 practices that we have had."
Following minicamp, the coaches will oversee a few days of rookie indoctrination -- some other recently signed players will attend as well -- but the bulk of Washington's veterans will begin vacation June 20. Players will report back to Redskins Park for training camp July 31.
Redskins Notes: Free agent cornerback R.W. McQuarters, who is believed to be close to signing a contract elsewhere, has not informed the Redskins of which contract offer he will choose. . . . Gibbs did not rule out adding a free agent or two before minicamp but said nothing was imminent. . . . Wide receiver Rod Gardner, still on the trading block, is not scheduled to attend minicamp or training camp, Gibbs said. Interest in Gardner among other teams has been minimal, with clubs expecting that the Redskins will cut him. By cutting Gardner, Washington would save $2.1 million in salary cap space. "One team for sure kind of hinted they're maybe looking at trying to do something [to trade for Gardner], but nothing else has really developed with Rod," Gibbs said. . . . H-Back Chris Cooley suffered a minor hamstring injury during practice, Gibbs said, but it is not a concern at this point.