By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The battle for the Washington Redskins' final quarterback position came to an anticlimactic conclusion Saturday, as the team placed Colt Brennan on injured reserve and released rookie Chase Daniel.
The Redskins trimmed their roster to 53 players, as required by league rules, and opted not retain a third quarterback, going against the grain and likely sending the team into preparations for next Sunday's season opener at the New York Giants with Jason Campbell and Todd Collins as the only quarterbacks on the roster.
"I think a lot of teams are doing that this year," said Vinny Cerrato, the team's vice president of football operations.
In addition to the Redskins, the Giants, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots will also start the week with two quarterbacks. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, meantime, will begin the season with four on their rosters.
Even though veterans such as Joey Harrington and Jeff Garcia hit the waiver wire Saturday night, Cerrato said, "We'll go in with two quarterbacks on the active roster."
If Daniel clears waivers, he is expected to be one of eight players invited Sunday to join the Redskins' practice squad and would serve as scout team quarterback at practices.
The Redskins are pleased with Campbell's progress, think Collins is reliable as a backup, "and Antwaan Randle El can go in and finish a game as well as any third quarterback," Cerrato said of the eighth-year receiver who played quarterback in college at Indiana.
For Brennan, who has a partially torn hamstring and torn labrum, going on injured reserve caps a disappointing camp. When players reported five weeks ago, coaches wanted to see if Brennan could challenge Collins for the backup position. Instead, Brennan spent the final couple weeks of training camp trying to stave off Daniel for the No. 3 job. Brennan threw three interceptions in the first three games -- one was returned 99 yards for a touchdown -- and had his best performance in the preseason finale at Jacksonville, completing 10 of 14 passes for 83 yards.
But he left that game early with a strained hamstring and injured knee. Brennan and Zorn said after the game the second-year quarterback would be fine, but an MRI exam a day later revealed damage in his left hip that will sideline him for the year.
Brennan suffered the injury in the preseason opener Aug. 13 at Baltimore but never disclosed it publicly. He continued practicing and playing, though his mechanics were slightly off. "The hip seems to cause him hamstring problems, so he's going to go back to see the same guy who did the previous hip," Cerrato said.
Injury-free most of his life, Brennan had surgery on his right hip before his rookie year, which forced him to miss a minicamp, and surgery on his knee immediately following the season. A sixth-round pick for the Redskins in 2008, Brennan set 21 NCAA records while playing in a run-and-shoot offense at the University of Hawaii. He was designated the third quarterback for all 16 games last season and nev played a down.
By putting Brennan on the injured reserve and choosing to keep only two quarterbacks, the Redskins essentially had an extra roster spot to offer. Cerrato said Georgetown Prep product Marcus Mason might've benefited from that bonus position. While the backfield has been essentially unchanged the past five seasons, the team will start this year with one extra piece -- the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Mason.
This marked the third year Mason had tried to catch on with the Redskins. He spent 2007 on their practice squad and was released following training camp last year. Despite questions about his pass protection and inexperience on special teams, Cerrato said coaches liked what they saw out of Mason this year.
"His pass protection was good where you feel comfortable putting him in on third downs and stuff," Cerrato said."
Perhaps one of the least surprising rookies to earn a roster spot was wide receiver Marko Mitchell. "To me it was almost just like Chris Horton last year," Cerrato said, comparing Mitchell to the team's 2008 seventh-round pick who became the starting safety.
On defense, the Redskins released end Rob Jackson, a seventh-round pick in 2008 who appeared in three games last season. But the bigger questions were at linebacker, where the Redskins kept rookie Robert Henson and Chris Wilson, a converted defensive end, over Robert Thomas, Darrel Young and Cody Glenn, a fifth-round draft pick.
"I think the coaches were more comfortable in that situation with him," Cerrato said of Henson. "What they said was he showed more explosion and stuff, and he was more ready to play, and he showed some pretty good hits and stuff, physical-ness and toughness."
Henson, a sixth-round draft pick, announced his status before the team could issue a release. "I knew my Lord and Savior would bring me through," he said via his Twitter account.
The Redskins also opted to keep an extra cornerback, choosing Byron Westbrook, a DeMatha product who had spent the past two seasons on the Redskins' practice squad.
"I mean, he played well on special teams and he played well in the secondary," Cerrato said. "He's been a two-year practice squad guy and we said coming into the year he had to show up, and any time there was a ball on the ground he was picking it up and making plays and he improved a lot and he earned the right to be on the team."