By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Washington Redskins defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn is stressed, for this weekend he is an event coordinator as well as a football player. Sitting at the far end of the parking lot at Redskins Park are three burgundy and gold tents, under which this weekend will lie numerous antique cars, Wynn's second passion.
For once, assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams's playbook is secondary to planning the details of the Renaldo Wynn Car Show Summer Fest, a charity event Wynn is hosting at the practice facility Sunday. From making sure his four cars -- a 1957 Bel Air and Chevy Impalas from '58, '61 and '62 -- are ready to snaring commitments from his teammates, the strain is starting to show.
Wynn, 32, is in his element, but for much of the offseason it was uncertain if he would still be fusing football with community service in Washington. He was under contract with the Redskins but unsure if the team, after a 5-11 season, planned to bring him back. He had a difficult season, losing his starting job when the team signed defensive end Andre Carter as a free agent. The move limited Wynn's playing time and undoubtedly would have diminished his value in the open market had the Redskins let him go.
Wynn totaled 15 tackles, the lowest of his career, and for the first time in his 10-year career had no sacks. But at the same time, even as the sharp edge of business seemed against him, Coach Joe Gibbs and Williams promised Wynn he would not be judged solely on sack totals, but also on his commitment to the locker room and to tying the Redskins closer to their fans. That encouraged Wynn to return.
"For me and my family, staying here was definitely the best thing," Wynn said. "It's not just about money or just being on the field. My surroundings are very important. The players, the coaches and the community matter. As you get older, your eyes are opened to these things. The grass isn't always greener."
Wynn eventually re-signed, though at a salary cut, and as the Redskins approach minicamp next weekend he knows this season could be his last with the club.
He is not alone in that assessment. The defensive unit that once was a source of strength is undergoing significant change. Joe Salave'a, the run-stopping defensive tackle, lost his job last season to rookie Kedric Golston. Lemar Marshall, the starting middle linebacker for the last two seasons, is a reserve behind free agent acquisition London Fletcher. Rocky McIntosh, for whom the Redskins traded up to acquire in last year's draft, is the projected starter at weak-side linebacker following the departure of Warrick Holdman.
"I look at everything as a human being," Wynn said. "You find yourself in certain situations for a reason, and maybe how I handle my situation can be passed down to a younger guy and he can learn from it. I started nine years in this league, and how do you handle it when you're not?"
While most of the Redskins' personnel moves revolve around performance, players such as Wynn challenge how the Redskins balance intangibles such as chemistry and community involvement.
Wynn lost his starting job yet accepted a reduced role last season because the Redskins appeared closer to playing for a championship and because he and his wife LaTanya have built a connection to the Washington area over the last five seasons. Still, Wynn says he is approaching minicamp fighting to win a job.
"I wanted to be comfortable, yes, but I still want to be the best player I can be," Wynn said. "How do you handle not being a starter? You keep working hard. You don't let anyone define you. You don't let anyone label who you are."
Redskins Notes: Cornerback Shawn Springs did not work out with the team yesterday. Springs left practice Tuesday afternoon because of a family matter. . . .
The Redskins will conduct two final days of organized team workouts, next Tuesday and Wednesday before next weekend's mandatory minicamp. . . .
Defensive end Phillip Daniels missed the first two workouts of the week attending to a family issue in Chicago. He is expected back today.