Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor did not practice yesterday and Coach Joe Gibbs said he was told to take the weekend off and report back to Redskins Park on Monday in the aftermath of his drunken-driving arrest on the Beltway in Virginia early Thursday. The Redskins ruled Taylor inactive for tomorrow's game against the Green Bay Packers after his arrest and failure to contact the team before practice on Thursday.
"We just kind of felt like for this weekend, with everything involved, it would be better for all of us if he was inactive this week," Gibbs said after yesterday's practice. "I told him, 'Hey, we'll get back in here Monday for a roaring start.' We're convinced that he's going to be a huge part of our future."
Gibbs made the decision after an extensive discussion with Taylor on Thursday afternoon, when he appeared at Redskins Park to meet with team officials. Gibbs described the meetings as positive, with Taylor, 21, expressing contrition for his actions.
"We had a good talk," Gibbs said. "He understands things."
Gibbs said he viewed the drunken-driving charge as an anomaly, and not part of a broader problem on the team. He said he doesn't plan on amending his sole team rule: Don't embarrass the organization or yourself.
"We don't have a lot of rules," Gibbs said. "The rules are common sense. If you're playing football and you're in football season, we don't want guys out late. That's not the best way to be prepared for meeting or practice. I realize we're dealing with young guys and sometimes they'll make mistakes. But in general, we'll trust them. They are real professional."
The Redskins plan to reinsert Taylor onto the active roster for the Nov. 7 game against the Detroit Lions. Andre Lott, who started the first two games of the regular season over Taylor, is expected to start against the Packers tomorrow.
Taylor, the Redskins' top draft pick in the NFL draft in April, faces a hearing Dec. 1 in Fairfax County General District Court. According to court documents, Taylor was stopped at 2:40 a.m. after his 2004 BMW sped along the outer loop of I-495 just south of Georgetown Pike. He refused to take a breath test and was charged.
Wide receiver Rod Gardner celebrated his 27th birthday Wednesday night at a club in the District, and Taylor was believed to have been returning to his home in Ashburn from the party.
A few veterans questioned the appropriateness of being out late during the week, with a critical game approaching, especially since the Redskins were coming off a bye week. Defensive end Phillip Daniels made the most pointed remarks, and said that if veterans on the team were with Taylor they should share some responsibility for failing to get him a ride home.
Gardner declined on Thursday to address the situation, saying he would respond only to questions that dealt with on-the-field issues. But Gardner was more expansive yesterday, describing the incident as an unfortunate occurrence that caused the media to search for a problem where none exists.
"If he wouldn't have gotten that [DWI], it wouldn't be an issue," Gardner said. "Everybody else was at work, practiced hard and had a good day. You have to cut down on going out during the regular season. Nobody goes out every night. But if you want to go and enjoy yourself or even go out to a restaurant and hang out at whatever time, as long as you get up and go to work in the morning and be productive, who cares."
Gardner said players who enjoy the District's nightlife should do so responsibly and stressed that teammates keep Gibbs's team rule in mind off the field.
"Even when I go out, I don't drink, really. I drink water. It's hard for me," Gardner said. "But if you're going to go out and drink you have to be responsible enough to get a limo to make sure you get home safely."
Although Gardner expressed regret about Taylor's arrest, the wide receiver took umbrage to the implication that he didn't do enough to prevent it.
"There was nobody out there in that position to see and say, 'Oh, he's been drinking, he's tipsy,' " Gardner said. "Everybody was chillin', so everybody left at a reasonable time.
"Nobody knew Sean was driving by himself or what was going on. It would have been different if we did. Everybody had limos and if anybody needed a ride, they got it. Guaranteed. We were all as surprised as anybody."
Still, a few veterans said the incident should make all Redskins players more careful.
"It's a wakeup call because you have to know that you're just not invisible when you go out," said defensive end Renaldo Wynn. "You represent yourself, your team, your family. And it affects all of us. You hope this will be a lesson for everybody."
The Redskins have the top-ranked defense in the NFL, tops against the run and No. 3 against the pass. However, Taylor's absence leaves Washington's defense with a depleted secondary as the unit faces its most daunting challenge of the season. The Packers have the NFL's second-ranked offense and are led by quarterback Brett Favre.
Strong safety Ryan Clark is expected to start his second consecutive game for Matt Bowen, who yesterday underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee. Clark, a third-year player, entered the season with only four NFL starts. Lott, a three-year veteran, made his NFL starting debut in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Safeties Todd Franz and Pat Dennis, who hasn't played since 2002, likely will play.
"They've got to step up," cornerback Shawn Springs said, "and everyone else has to elevate their games."