By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 3, 2007
The Washington Redskins signed eight players to the practice squad yesterday, released tight end Eric Edwards and claimed wide receiver Shaun Bodiford and tight end Cody Boyd off waivers, putting the roster at the 53-player limit. Washington was able to retain much of the young talent it had earmarked for the practice squad, with the players passing through waivers unclaimed, and addressed a shortcoming at wide receiver, at least temporarily.
The Redskins kept three players with local ties on the practice squad, all of whom performed well at positions of need in the preseason. End Alex Buzbee (Georgetown) displayed an ability to make plays in the backfield and the coaches will try to develop him into a passing-rushing force, something the team has lacked. Cornerback Byron Westbrook (DeMatha), brother of Philadelphia star running back Brian Westbrook, made the team from Division III Salisbury and could be a return specialist in the future, while fullback Brian Bell (DeMatha) plays a position currently occupied by only one established veteran (Mike Sellers).
Cornerback John Eubanks, who was on the practice squad last season, linebackers Matt Sinclair and Anthony Trucks, who showed consistent effort and progress in the preseason games, offensive lineman Kili Lefotu (a 2006 draft pick who had to be rushed to the hospital in his first training camp because of a breathing problem), and receiver Burl Toler also made the squad.
The Redskins entered yesterday with just 52 players on the roster, and only four wide receivers in that bunch, and could continue searching for offensive talent through the first few weeks of the season. Bodiford (lacking size at 5-foot-11, 186 pounds) joins an already slight group of receivers as Washington's attempts to add depth and height have largely failed.
There are several veteran wide receivers who have been released in recent days -- including Keenan McCardell, who nearly signed here before camp -- but the agents for several of those players said most teams are waiting until after Week 1 to sign their clients as in most cases their base salaries become guaranteed if they are on the Week 1 roster, but not if they sign after that point. Receivers like McCardell, Doug Gabriel and Clarence Moore are likely to be more attractive to teams a week from now.
Washington had hoped that Mike Espy, who made the practice squad last season and went on to make his NFL debut as well, would be a valuable depth receiver this season, but he suffered a season-ending injury in camp and free agents like Todd Pinkston and Corey Bradford failed to make a positive impression and were cut.
Bodiford, 25, has limited NFL experience but can return kicks and punts. He was with Green Bay this summer and played for the Packers and Detroit in 2006 as an undrafted free agent. Bodiford played at Portland State.
Boyd, 23, is listed as a tight end, but the Redskins often use those players as fullbacks as well, and Sellers has no backup on the roster for now (the Redskins also have just two proven tight ends, Chris Cooley and Todd Yoder). At 6-8, 264, Boyd has the potential to be an asset in the blocking game. He was signed by the Steelers as a rookie free agent out of Washington State.
The Redskins also reached injury settlements with tailback Derrick Blaylock and fullback Pete Schmitt, taking both players off the injured reserve list. The club could end up brining back Blaylock in the second half of the season, but he will be out with a heel injury the next three weeks and must wait six weeks beyond that before being eligible to re-sign with Washington.
Blaylock had success under associate head coach Al Saunders in Kansas City and his spot on the depth chart was taken by undrafted rookie Marcus Mason (Georgetown Prep). The team could look for veteran help at running back, tight end and fullback as well as wide receiver.