The Washington Redskins reshuffled their wide receivers again yesterday, releasing former University of Florida star Jacquez Green and promoting Justin Skaggs from the practice squad.
Green, who had only five catches in a failed bid to revive his NFL career, expressed his frustration as he left Redskins Park after meeting with Coach Steve Spurrier.
"Everybody else got a shot on offense except me," Green said. "All the quarterbacks get a shot. All the receivers get a shot. All the tight ends get a shot. But I never got a shot to start, so that was kind of weird to me. . . . I was hurt early on when it first started happening. After a while, it became funny, like, 'Are you all really serious?' Now it's relief. I get tired of going everywhere and people asking me why I don't play. I get tired of saying, 'I don't know.' "
Spurrier said: "It appeared he was not very happy being a Redskin. His attitude was such that we decided to let him go somewhere else."
Spurrier, who has juggled the lineup regularly searching for ways to get his club's passing game going, said Green had plenty of chances to prove himself and earn more playing time.
"Don't you think we give everybody an opportunity?" Spurrier said. "That's the age-old excuse. If he wants to use it, that's fine."
Green's agent, Hadley Engelhard, said he and Green had requested for several weeks for the receiver to be released so Green could seek an opportunity with another club. But sources said no such request was made or relayed to the coaching staff, which made the decision to release Green.
Green, 26, signed a three-year, $4.3 million contract in March, including a signing bonus of $225,000. Under NFL rules, he already was ensured of receiving his entire $525,000 salary for this season, so any possible objection that he and his agent might have had -- given the usual prohibition against teams cutting players while they're hurt -- was eliminated.
Green began the exhibition season as a starter alongside Rod Gardner but lost the starting job later in the preseason to Derrius Thompson. He also had fallen behind Chris Doering and Darnerien McCants more recently in the scramble for playing time at wide receiver, and the Redskins are ready to work Willie Jackson -- another former Gators signed 13 days ago -- into the mix.
This was the second shakeup of the wide receiver corps in less than two weeks. The team released Kevin Lockett when it signed Jackson. Green will become a free agent if he clears waivers. The former second-round draft choice has 162 catches in five NFL seasons, the first four of which came with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He totaled 107 catches in the 1999 and 2000 seasons but slumped to 36 receptions last season in Tampa Bay, and passed over a more lucrative offer from the St. Louis Rams to join Spurrier.
"That's the part that really hurt me the most, the fact that I could have played other places," Green said. "And to come here and lose my job during the preseason because the guy played better in the fourth quarter, and I played in the first quarter, never made sense to me. I played the first two [exhibition] games in the first quarter, and he played the first two games in the fourth quarter. Then the third game, he started and I was like, 'I should have come into camp as the backup receiver, then.' That was strange. They don't know the NFL game. They don't realize that when you play that late in the game, you're going to play against bad competition, guys that are not going to be on NFL rosters any more. It was funny to me."
Green's major contributions had come as a punt returner. He was averaging 10.2 yards per punt return and had a 90-yard touchdown on a punt return against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second game of the season. Cornerback Champ Bailey struggled as the fill-in punt returner after Green left last Sunday's 26-7 loss at Jacksonville; Green suffered a deep gash on his leg trying to catch a first-quarter pass from quarterback Shane Matthews. That throw was intercepted by cornerback Jason Craft as the Redskins squandered an opportunity to add to a 7-0 lead.
The Redskins' doctors cleared Green to return to the game after he received stitches to close his cut, he said, but he didn't. Green said yesterday he didn't think he was able to play. He said he remained unable to bend his knee yesterday but he indicated he would be healthy enough to play soon. He had said on Monday that he planned to play this week.
"I'll get some rest and get my knee back healthy," Green said. "It won't take long. The swelling has got to go down and the stitches heal up, and get the flexibility back in the knee. Hopefully, I'll go to somebody that's going to get into the playoffs."
Skaggs, 23, was elevated from the five-member practice squad to the 53-man roster, and could get a chance to contribute on special teams immediately. He could play on kick-coverage units and might get a look as a potential kickoff returner.
"I'm really excited," Skaggs said. "It's time to go to work. . . . I had a feeling something might happen this week."
He spent most of last season on the Redskins' practice squad after signing with the team in April 2001 as an undrafted rookie out of Evangel University in Missouri. He was promoted to the active roster for two games at the end of last season by former coach Marty Schottenheimer but didn't get into a game.
Some team officials believe that Skaggs's speed and all-out style of play could make him an effective kickoff returner. He said he never has returned punts but practiced catching them yesterday while club officials worked out punters.