The Washington Redskins have 11 wide receivers vying for four to six jobs, and the last two preseason games will determine who makes the cut.
"I think if some guys step up and play good in the next two weeks, there's a possibility we can keep five," said Terry Robiskie, the team's passing game coordinator. "I'd like to see us keep six, if we've got six who can play. But if nobody steps up and nobody proves they can be a guy who can help us . . . "
The Redskins must cull 20 players from their 85-man roster on Tuesday, when teams must trim to 65. The final cut, to 53, comes the following week, after the preseason finale.
Starters Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell are sure bets, as is veteran Irving Fryar, recently signed for stability. James Thrash and Chris Thomas are favored to complete the list. But coaches would like to see more play-making from Thrash, who tends to get nervous in games. Thomas, who had a bad drop against Buffalo on third and 12, also needs to prove he can keep his composure in games.
Among the other Redskins wide receivers, former New York Giant Kevin Alexander had the best training camp. Derrius Thompson (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), a rookie free agent from Baylor, also looked impressive early but missed most of camp with a sprained ankle. Thompson didn't return to practice until this week, so judging him is difficult. But coaches like his height, size and speed.
Time is also running short for Nigel Williams (6-3, 217) to prove he can help the team. The former CFL player looked impressive in minicamp but was slowed in camp by a groin injury.
After the cuts are made, at least one wide receiver will be brought back for the practice squad.
Agent Defends Patton
Joe Patton has declined to comment since being demoted to third-string left tackle following the Redskins' preseason opener against New England, in which a lapse in coverage led to a sack of quarterback Brad Johnson.
But Patton's agent, Alan Herman, who has had several Redskins clients during his 18-year career, didn't hesitate to say yesterday that he feels Patton is being made an example of unfairly.
"I respect Norv Turner's ability as a coach, but at the same time I think Joe has been singled out needlessly," Herman said. "I'm not saying he's perfect. I know there was one mental error in one preseason game. However, I don't think one mental error in a preseason game is reason to be demoted."
After attending the preseason home opener against Buffalo, Herman said he was convinced Patton was clearly the team's best left tackle. He pointed to the help coaches are giving veteran Andy Heck at the position by playing a tight end or running back outside of him.
"I'm not knocking Andy Heck," Herman said. "Clearly even with multiple people, I thought the level of play from their left tackle position -- certainly when the first team was in -- was far less than when Joe Patton is in. I'm not 100 percent sure why this is happening to Joe, if Joe is the best left tackle on that team."
Turner has said mistakes that lead to a clear sack simply aren't tolerable. Heck, meanwhile, will start against Pittsburgh.