Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday that he hoped to avoid distractions when deciding to excuse safety Sean Taylor from this weekend's minicamp, and is pleased with the participation of the rest of the team in the offseason program.

Taylor will be arraigned on felony assault charges in Miami on Friday and has not been at Redskins Park since the end of last season.

"When something like [Taylor's arrest] occurs, to me rather than having all of the attention and attraction going on here focused on Sean, I felt like it was better for him to take care of the issues he's working on," Gibbs said. "I felt like it was a better decision for us and for him. We've had real good work and our focus is on the guys who are here."

Gibbs opened yesterday by showing his players a projection noting they had 96 percent participation in voluntary training at Redskins Park over the past three months. "It's pretty phenomenal," Gibbs said. "The best I ever had."

Injury Lingers for Barrow

Linebacker Mike Barrow, who has yet to play since signing with Washington last year because of knee problems, worked out with trainers but will not participate in minicamp, Gibbs said. The lingering injury could result in Barrow's release, and he will not have a chance to participate in drills again until training camp begins in August.

"We'll continue to work him and going after it pretty hard with him, and hopefully there will be a point here where he's freed up to start practicing," Gibbs said.

A Welcome Change

While much is being made about the changes to Washington's moribund passing game, running back Clinton Portis is eager to play in a scheme more suited to stretching the defense and using zone blocking, which is more to his liking. For much of last season, Portis struggled to adjust to the patience necessary to execute the Redskins' inside power running plays.

"It was [frustrating], knowing that you are one tackle away, that you're one play away from having a big day," he said. "I think frustrations can creep in and aggravation can kick in, when you're used to doing one thing and you turn around and turn into a grinder -- three yards per carry, four yards per carry. It becomes difficult. This year well be much more exciting."

Odds and Ends

H-back Chris Cooley (hamstring) did not practice and is the only player with a current injury. Linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee) and defensive lineman Brandon Noble (infection) are still recovering from previous problems. Rod Gardner, on the trading block, and Taylor had their absences excused. . . .

Tackle Jon Jansen joked about the Redskins losing three days of offseason work for violations of NFL rules that were spotted being broadcast on the team's Web site. "Is Larry Michael here?" Jansen said of the person who did the Webcast commentary. "We want to thank him for our vacation." . . .

Gibbs reiterated that wide receiver Darnerien McCants, who played sparingly last season because of his lack of special teams proficiency, may have to fill that role to crack the roster. McCants is now included in a few special teams packages, Gibbs said. . . . The Redskins hired Matt Jacobson as their salary cap assistant and Ryan Kessenich as their pro personnel assistant and added scouts Mike Faulkiner, Jim Zeches, Terry Ray and Russ Bolinger to the staff. . . . The Redskins released defensive lineman Tyler Luebke.