The Washington Redskins have decided to keep field goal kickers Mark Moseley and rookie Dan Miller on their season-opening 49-man roster, it has been learned. Miller will be assigned to the four-man taxi squad.
Miller was not cut although he missed both his field goal kicks against Cincinnati Friday night. The coaches still believe he can play in the National Football League, and they still have two major questions about Moseley: is he over the injuries that plagued him last year and is he on the downside of his career?
Members of the taxi squad can be moved to the active roster any week before 4 p.m. Saturday. But Miller could spend the whole season there if Moseley has a good year.
The Redskins yesterday declined to announce any of their personnel moves -- they have to cut 11 players by today -- although Coach Joe Gibbs had said that most of the decisions would be made Saturday night. Gibbs spent the day preparing a game plan for the season opener against Philadelphia and was unavailable for comment. Apparently, no players have been told they will be dropped, so the coaches still have all their options.
However, it seems likely running back Joe Washington, whose knee is hurt, will be put on the in-season injured reserve list. If so, he will miss at least four games before he can be activated, and halfback Clarence Harmon, the No. 6 back on a five-back team, probably will not be cut.
There appear to be no spots available for veterans such as wide receiver Terry Metcalf, defensive end Dallas Hickman and center Ron Saul. Saul has a bad knee and seems headed for injured reserve. Rookie receiver Carl Powell, the No. 3 choice from Jackson State, has a slim chance of making the team after a poor training camp. Thursday's acquisition of defensive end Tony McGee from New England means that either Mike Clark or John Lee, if not both, are expendable.
Metcalf, who caught 48 passes last year, had an offseason concussion that put him far behind his competition. The problem now: the Redskins don't have any more time to allow him to regain last season's form, especially with several younger receivers and tight ends pushing for playing time.
Gibbs has a tough decision to make at tight end, and it will be based on numbers. Whether Rick Walker and Rich Caster survive will depend on how many players the Redskins keep at that spot. Gibbs hinted he might stay with five, although four has been his working figure since early summer.
The Redskins' roster still could change within the week. They don't have enough defensive tackles, where the only backup is Darryl Grant, and he is making the transition from offensive guard to defense. It would not be surprising to see the Redskins acquire a tackle off the waiver list.
The decision to keep two place kickers is somewhat of a surprise, since most teams use the 49th spot to keep a promising quarterback or a player at another skill position.
But Miller, the 11th-round draft choice from the University of Miami, has made a considerable impression on the coaches. Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach, has predicted that Miller can become a longtime star in the NFL. The Redskins also remember that, in 1978, they cut punter George Roberts instead of Mike Bragg. That was a choice they later regretted.
Although Moseley, at times, has appeared distraught in training camp, he said he was not upset with the coaches.
"I just told Dan before the Cincinnati game that one game wasn't going to make or break his career," said Moseley, who was part of active trade talks last week. "That one game shouldn't mean that much. I felt the same about my kicking and missing one field goal (against Buffalo).
"Dan was just getting a good opportunity that not many young guys get. They wanted to see what he could do Friday under pressure. They already knew what I could do. He's a good kicker and he's going to do well for some team in this league, I'm sure of that."
Yet Moseley also wonders if Gibbs' staff, in its second season here, understands "my capabilities. Last year, I had injury problems, so they did not see me perform like I'm capable of performing.
"If they keep me, I want to show them I am the best, so they know they made the right decision."