The NFL is investigating allegations that Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor spit on a player during Sunday's 17-10 loss to Cincinnati, league sources said, while an earlier fine levied against the rookie for missing part of a mandatory symposium has been lowered after an arbitration hearing.
Taylor, the fifth overall pick from Miami who has had repeated off-field incidents since being drafted -- including an arrest for driving under the influence last month -- could face another fine for unsportsmanlike conduct if the league determines he spat on Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Cincinnati Coach Marvin Lewis stated during his Monday news conference that one of his players was spat upon in the game, but would not name either party involved. Houshmandzadeh got into a physical altercation with Taylor at one point and called him a "punk" to reporters after the game. Sources said the NFL is aware of the claims and, as it does with every game, is watching tape of the game to determine if additional disciplinary actions are necessary.
Given the nature of the allegations it may be difficult to adequately gauge whether Taylor did in fact spit. The league usually issues fines and suspensions late in the week after the review is complete.
Taylor has not spoken to the media since being arrested for driving under the influence on Oct. 28 and, when approached to comment about Houshmandzadeh on Monday, again declined to comment.
Taylor initially got into trouble with the league when he left this summer's rookie symposium without permission and originally was fined $20,000. Taylor appealed and the fine was lowered to $12,500, sources said. Taylor also will have to report to league headquarters in New York at some point for a full-day remedial session to cover the aspects of the seminar that he missed during his absence.
Taylor's brief tenure in Washington has been filled with turmoil as he fired his agents twice -- causing a delay in initial contract negotiations with the Redskins -- then rehired his original agent, Drew Rosenhaus, shortly after signing his deal because he believed he could have gotten more money. Taylor already has initiated two media boycotts and was suspended for one game after his DUI arrest; he will appear in court next month.
A Step Down
After being ranked first in the NFL in overall defense for virtually the entire season, the Redskins dropped to second overall after allowing 316 yards to the Bengals. The Redskins rank first against the pass and third against the run. . . .
Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, considered by many to be the team's top performer this season, believes he may be able to participate in at least part of today's practice. The players were off yesterday and Griffin reported for treatment for his hip flexor. "I feel a lot better than I did Sunday," Griffin said, "but I still feel it in certain movements, so really it's too early to tell. We'll go day-by-day with a lot of rehabbing and stretching, and I'll definitely try to be on the field by Sunday." . . .
Washington continues to struggle on third downs, one of the primary reasons for its stagnant offense. The Redskins were 4 for 16 on third-down conversions Sunday and 20 for 76 (26 percent) on third downs over the last six weeks. Quarterback Mark Brunell, who started all nine game thus far but is now the backup, completed 28 of 78 third-down passes (35.9), which ranks worst in the NFL. Burnell's 32.0 rating on third down is also worst in the league . . .
Philadelphia Eagles punt returner-running back Reno Mahe will miss Sunday's game because of a high ankle sprain. . . .
Contract talks with potential free agent cornerback Fred Smoot are ongoing, sources said, but are not expected to heat up until closer to the end of the season. . . . The Redskins are 3-9 in their last 12 games dating from last season.