Linebacker LaVar Arrington was one of the first players to arrive at Redskins Park for medical treatment yesterday, because of a neck stinger suffered during the Washington Redskins' 27-0 rout of the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field on Friday night. As he chatted with reporters, rookie safety Sean Taylor walked by for treatment on a thigh bruise caused by a helmet hit.
More than 70 Redskins players arrived at the training facility for a day filled with treatment, afternoon meetings and a workout that concluded after 5 p.m. Taylor and Arrington are among the Redskins' mainstays; however, some other players no longer will be part of the team as the roster is trimmed to 53 by today's NFL deadline. Washington will kick off the regular season next Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 1 p.m. at FedEx Field.
The coaches arrived at Redskins Park well ahead of the players to analyze game film before making cuts. The staff planned to start informing affected players this morning and will release an official list today.
Gibbs and Gregg Williams, his assistant head coach-defense, will have several difficult choices. Perhaps the most intriguing situation is at running back, where apparently two spots exist for four candidates: Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, Sultan McCullough and John Simon.
"I can't worry about anything I can't control," Cartwright said. "They haven't said anything so I don't know what's going to go on. Hopefully, I'll be here. I'd love to be here because I think we have something special here and I want to be a part of it."
Cartwright -- who didn't play Friday because of a neck stinger -- finished the preseason with 89 yards on 34 carries (averaging 2.6 yards) and one touchdown. He shed about 20 pounds to reach 210, converting from fullback.
After a strong performance during training camp, Simon missed the final two preseason games with a hamstring injury. Simon hopes he displayed enough of his versatility, including receiving and special teams play. He had 17 carries for 58 yards (averaging 3.4) and was among the team leaders with six receptions for 56 yards.
"I feel like I've shown them what I have to offer," Simon said. "So we'll see what they think about it."
McCullough is not as multidimensional as Washington's other reserve backs, but he has been, statistically, the most impressive runner: 51 carries for 212 yards (4.1-yard average).
Limited to two preseason games because of hamstring ailments, Betts appeared to clinch a spot Friday by rushing for touchdowns of five and three yards; he had eight carries for 28 yards. Betts is expected to be the main backup to Pro Bowler Clinton Portis.
Chad Morton, a part-time scatback, is virtually assured a spot as the team's top kick returner.
The Redskins reportedly have inquired about veteran tailbacks to help as a power back. Last Sunday, the Redskins worked out six-year veteran Stacey Mack, who started five games for the Texans last season, averaging a career-low 2.7 yards but scoring four touchdowns.
Washington started training camp July 30 with roughly 90 players. Last week, Gibbs -- who also is team president -- sliced the roster to 76 including 11 NFL Europe players granted exemptions. The final roster will not include the eight-man practice squad, an increase of three from past seasons.
NFL teams can start forming a practice squad at noon Monday. A player is eligible if he is a free agent who hasn't served more than one accrued season on a practice squad; or if the player was on an active roster for less than nine regular season games. Practice-squad players can be signed to the active roster of any NFL team.
"Three more guys to develop gives you more legs to practice," Redskins Vice President of Player Personnel Vinny Cerrato said. "It's huge for the developmental process. It's great for young guys."
Redskins Notes: Randy Thomas wore an ice pack behind his neck to relieve a strain suffered last week. Does the right guard expect to play next Sunday? "My mind says yes," he said. What about the body? "We'll wait and see," he responded. "I'm just trying to keep my mind right. When I get on the field, I'll know what my body feels like." . . .
Left tackle Chris Samuels (sprained right ankle) is "very optimistic" about playing the season opener after missing the preseason finale. . . . Linebacker Mike Barrow, who hasn't played this preseason because of knee tendinitis, will practice this week but is uncertain if he will be able to play the opener.