By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
The Washington Redskins released kicker Nick Novak yesterday, ending his second short stint with the club, and will evaluate kicker Shaun Suisham the rest of the season, Coach Joe Gibbs said. Suisham was effective on kickoffs in Sunday's 24-14 loss to Atlanta, and missed a 50-yard field goal in his only attempt.
Novak, who starred at Maryland, said he may stay in the area for a few weeks and work out, hoping to catch on with another team. He also hopes to get a shot at an NFL Europe spot. Novak made only half of his kicks with the Redskins and missed a 37-yard field goal in the last game in which he participated.
"It's my fault," Novak said. "They said they wanted to see how [Suisham] kicked for the rest of the year."
Suisham, like Novak, is a young kicker who has yet to establish himself in the NFL. "Shaun gives us the best chance to get more distance" on kickoffs, Gibbs said.
The Redskins re-signed defensive lineman Ryan Boschetti when Novak was released. Boschetti was waived over the weekend to make room when Washington carried two kickers into the game with Atlanta.
The Redskins have gone through multiple kickers in recent years. They last signed a free agent kicker, John Hall, in 2003. He has gotten hurt each of the past three seasons and was placed on injured reserve in October.Betts Impresses
Running back Ladell Betts, coming off his second straight 100-yard game, is making significant progress toward a new contract, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. There have been other points in the season when a contract appeared imminent as well, a source cautioned, but the Redskins are eager to re-sign him before he hits the free agent market in March.
"We're talking, but I haven't signed anything," Betts said.
Gibbs has raved about Betts's work this season and said he does not want him to get away. "Hopefully, what we'll be able to do is get him signed," Gibbs said. "It's important to us to get it done."Springs: 'I'm Ready'
Cornerback Shawn Springs, who missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, said he feels better than he has all season and expects to be 100 percent for next weekend's game. Springs missed half the season with a sports hernia -- he could barely walk for the first eight weeks after surgery, and had a stellar game against Carolina on Nov. 26, then hurt his hamstring. Springs worked out as normal yesterday and said he expects to be able to practice tomorrow.
"I feel good," Springs said. "I'm ready to go."
Linebacker Khary Campbell, who also missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, said is he day-to-day. "I'm planning to be out there for next Sunday," Campbell said. Starting safety Troy Vincent also missed the game with a hamstring injury.Wild Card Remains Elusive
For the past month, virtually all of the teams ahead of the Redskins in the chase for a wild-card berth have lost, yet Washington (4-8) has gained no ground. On Sunday, Minnesota, San Francisco, Green Bay, the New York Giants and St. Louis lost, as did Carolina last night, making it even more likely that an 8-8 or 9-7 team will sneak into the postseason in the weak NFC.
The Redskins, however, have won consecutive games only once all season and are 2-6 against conference opponents. "That hurt more than anything," end Phillip Daniels said. "We had our chance to be in this thing and right back where we need to be and we've got another home game coming up against Philly, and we just didn't do it, and that's frustrating more than anything." . . .
The game Sunday turned for good after the Falcons' third drive stalled. The Redskins led, 14-0, producing 139 yards on 14 plays through two possessions. Atlanta ran 15 plays for 31 yards in its first three possessions. On Washington's final thrive drives of the half, it amassed just 47 yards on 15 plays, scoring no points. The Falcons' final two drives of the half resulted in 10 points, and they ran 16 plays for 136 yards. . . . Tailback Clinton Portis is scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery today.
Staff writer Howard Bryant contributed to this report.