By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The Washington Redskins released lead return man Antonio Brown, a part-time wideout who was plagued by dropped passes in preseason and lost a fumble on a kickoff in Sunday's victory over the Chicago Bears, yesterday.
With an open spot on the roster, the Redskins signed kicker Nick Novak as insurance for the injured John Hall. Novak, who played for the University of Maryland, was among several kickers who auditioned yesterday morning at Redskins Park.
Novak is expected to be activated for Monday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Hall strained his right quadriceps on his last kickoff Sunday after scoring every point in the 9-7 victory. Gibbs said Monday that Hall, who suffered the same injury last season, would most likely not kick against Dallas. But Hall will try to practice this week.
Hall finished last season on the injured reserve after missing eight games. Before the 2004 season, Hall was known for being injury-free. But the nine-year veteran has now suffered five injuries during the past year.
The Redskins have a bye week after Monday's game, so Hall's roster spot appears to be safe for at least the next two weeks.
During the offseason, Brown impressed Washington's coaching staff with his speed and showed promise as a pass-catcher. But Sunday, Brown's lost fumble on the second-half kickoff set up Chicago's only points. Brown's performance came after he dropped several passes in the preseason finale, making him an uncertainty to make the 53-man roster.
Against Chicago, Brown averaged 2.5 yards on two punt returns and had a 16-yard kickoff return.
On Monday, Gibbs had been noncommittal about whether Brown was in danger of losing his job, but noted that tailback Ladell Betts has handled kickoffs. Betts is expected to become the lead kick returner with James Thrash taking a secondary role. Santana Moss excelled as a punt returner with the New York Jets before being traded to the Redskins in the offseason and Moss is likely to split the punting role with Thrash. Cornerback Shawn Springs also has the ability to return punts.
Without Brown, the Redskins have only four wide receivers on the roster.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Novak spent the preseason with Chicago, making all three field-goal attempts. He finished his career as the leading scorer in ACC history.