CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 20 -- Max Zendejas' short, but eventful, career with the Washington Redskins ended early this morning when the team told him he had been released.
Convinced that Zendejas' kicking motion was too slow and not immediately correctable, the Redskins chose to keep free agent Andre Guardi as their No. 2 preseason kicker behind incumbent Jess Atkinson.
By releasing Zendejas this early, the Redskins have given him a reasonable chance to catch on with another team this summer. But they also have given a strong signal to the rest of the National Football League that they believe Zendejas is not a reliable kicker.
Special teams coach Chuck Banker said Zendejas, who was inconsistent in the nine games he played for the Redskins last season, was cut solely on his preseason performance.
"From day one, we didn't discuss last year," Banker said today at the team's Dickinson College training camp. "We didn't look at last year. All I wanted to do was build on a positive note. He has a strong leg, but it has not been as efficient timewise or as productive as I think he is capable of being."
Zendejas, who played at the University of Arizona and was the Dallas Cowboys' fourth-round draft choice in 1986, could not be reached for comment.
Signed as Mark Moseley's replacement last Oct. 13, Zendejas tied an NFL record when he missed three extra points in his third game, the Redskins' 44-38 overtime victory over Minnesota.
Four weeks later, he sent the Redskins into the playoffs with a 27-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in a 20-17 victory at St. Louis.
But, two weeks after that, in the penultimate game of the season, he badly missed another extra point and two field goals in a 31-30 loss at Denver.
After that game, Zendejas was criticized by several teammates and was placed on injured reserve with a groin pull so he could stay on the payroll and come back this summer. The Redskins then signed Atkinson, who has not missed a kick in a game since joining the team.
Atkinson came to training camp as the Redskins' No. 1 kicker and Zendejas never came close to unseating him.
"Jess is my kicker," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "I figured we could let Max catch on with another team by waiving him early in camp."
Because there has been no trace of a high-pressure kicking competition this summer in the Redskins' camp, Atkinson said Zendejas' release doesn't change things for him.
"The pressure to put the ball through the uprights is still there," Atkinson said. "If I don't do that, they'll find someone else who does."
The Redskins also released free agent punter David DeSilva, a rookie from Sacramento State.