There were few surprises as the Washington Redskins made their final preseason cuts yesterday, reducing their roster to the regular season maximum of 53 players. The team also made a trade, sending a sixth-round draft choice in 2001 to the Miami Dolphins for reserve defensive tackle Barron Tanner.
Place kicker Jeff Hall, the Redskins' sixth-round selection in April's draft, was among the 18 players released. Hall's departure was expected, since the Redskins had awarded their starting kicking job to Brett Conway.
Club officials said they had few tough calls on their final roster decisions, although several of the players cut--including tight end Kevin Pesak, wide receiver Nigel Williams and fullback Chad Dukes--had given themselves outside chances of making the team.
"There are some guys who would have made our teams the last two or three years," Coach Norv Turner said. "A couple guys would have played a lot. It's an indication we're a better football team."
Also cut were linebackers Chester Burnett and Antwaune Ponds, defensive ends Derrick Ham and Rahmaan Streater, defensive tackle Rod Walker, safety Wendell Davis, running back Norman Miller, wide receiver Derrius Thompson and tight end Robert Tardio.
In addition, the Redskins released five players--center Juan Porter, guard Mike Edwards, defensive tackle Troy Bailey and cornerbacks David Terrell and Tyrone Smith--who had played in NFL Europe and hadn't counted against the team's roster limit.
"It all worked itself out through the preseason," said Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' director of player personnel. "There weren't a lot of things that changed our mind [during Friday night's preseason-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers]. Going in, we had a pretty good idea, and it stayed pretty consistent through the game."
The Redskins kept fullback Larry Bowie on their roster even though his broken left ankle probably will keep him out at least until the middle of the season. Mike Sellers will be used as a tight end and run-blocking fullback while Bowie is sidelined.
Hall's release leaves the Redskins with only two of their six draft choices on the roster. Those two, first-round cornerback Champ Bailey and second-round offensive tackle Jon Jansen, are starters. Fifth-round offensive tackle Derek Smith is on the reserve nonfootball injury list because of a severe knee injury suffered during the NFL scouting combine in February. Fourth-round pick, linebacker Nate Stimson, and seventh-round pick, wide receiver Tim Alexander, had been cut previously.
Hall, who is from Tennessee, essentially ruined his chance of making the team when he missed a 23-yard field goal attempt in the preseason opener against the New England Patriots. The Southeastern Conference's career scoring leader was near tears as he prepared to leave Redskin Park.
"I can say leaving here, I gave everything I had," Hall said. "I tried to do everything they told me to do. I'm blessed just to have the opportunity. The hardest part is leaving the people that you meet."
Conway spoke to Hall as Hall left. "He's a good enough kicker to kick in this league," Conway said. "I told him to hang in there."
Williams didn't take the news nearly as well, storming out of the practice facility without speaking to reporters. During the team's summer minicamps, the former Canadian Football League standout performed well. But his play declined during training camp, and he finished behind Michael Westbrook, Albert Connell, Irving Fryar, James Thrash and Chris Thomas. Thomas probably beat out Williams because of his special-teams play.
Pesak and Dukes both had some good moments during training camp. But Pesak missed the final two preseason games because of a sprained ankle. Both spent time on the Redskins' five-member practice squad last season, and both are likely to return Monday when the team assembles this year's practice squad.
"I thought I had a shot," Dukes said. "I'm a little disappointed. . . . I thought I did well. I showed what I can do."
Pesak said: "I'm not surprised at all. That's just the way it goes. . . . It's always frustrating to any player when you get injured."
Burnett and Ponds were the only players cut yesterday who played for the Redskins last season.
Tanner, 25, played two seasons for the Dolphins after being a fifth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in 1997. He started Miami's playoff loss to the Denver Broncos last season in place of the injured Tim Bowens, his first NFL start. He joins Marc Boutte and Doug Brown as the backups for Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson.
"He's a run-stopping guy," said Cerrato, who didn't rule out making further acquisitions once other teams complete cuts today. "His best attributes are he has great character, outstanding effort and high energy."
The Final Cut
The Redskins trimmed their roster to 53 by cutting 18 players. The list*:
Troy Bailey DT
Chester Burnett LB
Wendell Davis S
Chad Dukes RB
Mike Edwards G
Jeff Hall PK
Derrick Ham DE
Norman Miller RB
Kevin Pesak TE
Antwaune Ponds LB
Juan Porter C
Tyrone Smith CB
Rahmaan Streater DE
Robert Tardio TE
David Terrell CB
Derrius Thompson WR
Rod Walker DT
Nigel Williams WR
*The team may establish a practice squad of five players on Monday.