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Mike Wise: More Questions Than Answers for the Redskins in This Uneven Preseason

The Washington Redskins lose to Jacksonville in their final preseason game, 24-17.

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By Mike Wise
Friday, September 4, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. He's Vinny's guy.

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You know how many times I've heard that the past couple of weeks? Twenty? No, 30 times?

He's Vinny's guy. Loose translation: If a player is vouched for by Vinny Cerrato, who is in his second full season as lead architect of the Washington Redskins, he automatically makes the team. Case closed.

By this logic, Anthony Alridge can fumble away a kickoff return that leads to six points for the other team in the last preseason game, as he did Thursday night. He can put his team in an awful hole, and it doesn't matter. He gets a mulligan. He makes the team.

Why? According to the "he's Vinny's guy" crowd, it's because Cerrato had the foresight to pick up Alridge on waivers from Denver, because anything Alridge does would make Cerrato look prescient, he gets a pass.

The same goes for Mike Williams, the right tackle trying to worm his way on to the 53-man roster before Saturday's cut-down day.

Williams, who went from blubbery to beefy this summer in a comeback attempt, has been nursing a bad ankle. In his first game back after the preseason opener, he also gave up a sack that led to a fumble and another Jacksonville score. If he is indeed Vinny's guy, logic dictates Mike Williams will still have a job -- irrespective of how bad he's looked in the preseason.

For the record, I don't buy the "he's Vinny's guy" theory. When I explained the theory to Cerrato late Thursday night in the visitor's locker room, he had a good chuckle about it.

"When they make a play, they're definitely my guy," he said. "What I was looking for tonight was guys that say, 'You gotta keep me' with their play, not 'You gotta cut me.' If you were one of guys who said, 'You gotta keep me,' you're my guy."

Why don't I like "he's Vinny's guy" as a blanket term? Not only does that kind of thinking creep disturbingly toward an ethnic slur -- as if Cerrato had gone back to his birthplace of Flushing, N.Y., and mapped out the roster on a red-and-white checkered tablecloth while James Gandolfini stirred sausage and peppers -- it also doesn't give Cerrato credit for cutting some of the kids he drafted or some of the free agents that didn't pan out.

Yes, he kept all 10 draft picks a year ago. But he finally cut Durant Brooks, the young punter who wishes he could have hit the scoreboard at Cowboys Stadium; it just took Cerrato until October. And no way all seven picks this season make the team. If the "Vinny's guy" theory held, then Eddie Williams would be in at fullback and both Cody Glenn and Robert Henson would stick as linebackers. (I believe only Glenn makes the cut).

And if Alridge is a Cerrato find, doesn't he also get credit for Brian Orakpo and a wild-card rookie who's played himself on to the roster, wideout Marko Mitchell? What about a supplemental pick like Jeremy Jarmon, what if he becomes a decent defensive end? He's got to be claimed by Cerrato.


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