Safety Sean Taylor, the fifth overall pick of the draft, suffered what Coach Joe Gibbs said is a minor sprain of his right knee during Washington Redskins passing camp today, getting hurt one day after signing a six-year contract worth a maximum of $40 million. The Redskins and Taylor's agents worked arduously to get the rookie signed in time for the start of training camp on Saturday, but his ability to participate in those opening sessions is now in doubt.
Results of MRI testing showed no problems, team vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said, and his status is day-to-day: "If he feels good enough to practice on Saturday, then he'll be out there," Cerrato said. Taylor returned to Redskins Park briefly around 5:20 this afternoon walking with a limp and with his knee bandaged. He left shortly thereafter and was not available for comment.
This setback, however minor it may turn out to be, is the latest twist in what has been an odd series of events since Taylor was drafted in April.
He fired his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, two days after the draft, went without representation for nearly three months before choosing new agents, had to miss part of a minicamp as the result of taking a shaving cream pie to the face from linebacker LaVar Arrington in a rookie hazing prank, and was fined $25,000 by the NFL for failing to attend the duration of a rookie seminar in California.
Much of that seemed behind the 21-year-old when he addressed the media yesterday upon signing a six-year contract including $13 million in bonuses and a maximum payout of $40 million. The swift pace of contract negotiations -- Taylor did not have an agent until last Tuesday -- allowed the rookie to fly from Miami in time for the final day of passing camp yesterday; he suffered the injury late in that session.
Another young defensive back, Dennard Wilson, who was brought in as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Maryland and is from Upper Marlboro, was also hurt in that practice and underwent season-ending surgery yesterday afternoon, Cerrato said. Wilson is believed to have suffered multiple fractures in the area around his left ankle. Gibbs said the injury occurred when Wilson, who had impressed coaches to this point, landed awkwardly during a drill (unlike training camp, passing is closed to the public and the media).
Gibbs said Taylor was hurt while working in a pass-coverage drill when he ran out of bounds and tumbled over. He was unable to continue practicing and received immediate medical attention on the field and then went for further testing. Gibbs said he did not believe the injury was serious -- "I think Sean should be okay," Gibbs said -- but missing even a few days of training camp would be less than ideal for a player who has the skills to start immediately and make an impact, but must still learn the defense and adjust to the pro game.
"This is the number one fear you always have," Gibbs said. "Injuries are a part of contact sports and we try to do whatever we can to try to keep an accident from happening and you realize in a contact sport you're always going to have some of them. But so far we've been very fortunate and had a lot of work, and today it just kind of bit us."
Not all the news was bad for Taylor yesterday however, as he began to receive part of his various bonuses agreed to in his contract. He was issued his roster bonus of $730,000 yesterday as well as a sizeable chunk of his $7.2 million signing bonus (the final installment of that payment is due in April). Taylor will receive an option bonus of $4.475 million next March and an option bonus of $640,000 in March of 2006, bringing his total to $13.045 million in bonuses paid over the first three years of the deal.
The Redskins are off the next two days, allowing the rookie time to recuperate. Players report for the start of training camp Friday and have two training sessions planned for Saturday. Players were not in full pads during this passing camp -- designed primarily to improve the timing between quarterbacks and receivers -- although many of the players not required to be on the field were at Redskins Park to workout anyway.
"I think we had real good work," Gibbs said. "Obviously, we didn't have all of our linemen here, but we had real good work. I thought we accomplished a lot."
NOTE: While the Redskins have maintained interest in Miami defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, looking for a pass rusher, completing a trade remains difficult. The Dolphins have been unable to sign the restricted free agent and had been telling teams he was unavailable. Miami may end up dealing him for a running back given the surprise retirement of Ricky Williams, but Washington does not match up as a strong trade partner at that position.
Reports of a three-way trade involving Indianapolis running back Edgerrin James were denied by various parties yesterday, including team sources, and Colts General Manager Bill Polian has said he will not deal James.