- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

Jimmy Farris and Mike Espy went into last night’s preseason finale against Baltimore as Washington’s leading receivers this summer. But both faced long odds of making the Redskins.

After their wideouts other than Santana Moss came up short last season, the Redskins invested big bucks in receivers Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El in March. That trio and longtime NFL regulars David Patten and James Thrash are virtual locks to survive tomorrow’s final cut to 53 players. Washington kept just five receivers in each of the past two seasons under coach Joe Gibbs.

Farris, who had nine catches for 83 yards in the first three games this preseason, had two touchdown grabs in the 2005 preseason finale against the Ravens but was still cut.

“They always say whoever can make it happen in this last game, it’s real important, but I was home the next day,” said Farris, who had no catches last night before leaving with a strained hamstring.

Unlike the 28-year-old Farris, who was let go by San Francisco, New England, Atlanta and Washington while catching just seven passes the past five regular seasons since leaving Montana, the 23-year-old Espy is a rookie free agent out of Mississippi.

“The coaches have given me plenty of opportunities and this is the last chance to show what I can do,” said Espy, who came in with six catches for 78 yards and added four catches for 24 yards with a touchdownlast night. “I’d be a liar if I said I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t make the 53, but this team has a great receiving corps and if they kept me around on the practice squad, that would still enable me to go out and improve every day.”

Complicated math

The trade between the Redskins and Broncos (that brought T.J. Duckett from Atlanta to Washington) nearly two weeks ago won’t be formally completed until after the season thanks to a formula devised by Denver general manager Ted Sundquist and Ashley Lelie’s agent, Peter Schaffer.

Redskins vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said this type of arrangement is “very rare. It happened because everybody wanted the deal to happen. It took Ted and Peter a day-and-a-half to work it out and then they had to talk to the league and then design a game plan that would satisfy them and us.”

The pick Denver will get is based on where the Broncos and Redskins pick in the first round of the 2007 draft.

For example, if the teams have a repeat of last year — Washington is at No. 22 and Denver No. 30 — they would swap first-round selections and the Redskins would give Denver a fourth-round pick in 2008.

If the teams finish with the same regular-season record, they will swap first round spots and Denver will get the Redskins’ third-round pick in that draft. Another possibility is the Redskins give Denver a third-round pick in 2007 and a fourth-round selection in 2008. There are dozens of possible combinations.

Getting comfortable

Acquired in a trade with San Francisco on Aug. 16 for receiver Taylor Jacobs, cornerback Mike Rumph has gotten a crash course in the Redskins defense while also playing major snaps.

“Things are going fast but everybody has taken me in to help me out,” Rumph said this week. “I’m trying to learn a little bit of the nickel package and just trying to learn as much of the defense as possible.”

Rumph is slated to be the No. 4 cornerback, but he has received additional playing time because of Shawn Springs’ abdominal surgery.

“I like the hands-on learning and that’s what I’m doing when I get a chance to run around out there,” he said. “Shawn’s not on the field but he’s been in the meetings and he’s always in my ear, telling me about the defense.”

Rumph said the Redskins coaching staff hasn’t radically altered his technique.

“The good thing about this coaching staff is they let you bring a big tool belt to the game — they let you add technique and fundamental skills they want you to learn on top of what you’re already doing,” he said.

Coaching connection

Although their time together in San Diego 19 years ago lasted only three games, Redskins associate head coach-offense Al Saunders and Baltimore quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel remain connected.

In 1987, Neuheisel was San Diego’s replacement team quarterback and Saunders the Chargers’ head coach.

With Neuheisel running the offense, the Chargers went 3-0 in replacement games. Neuheisel, a former college head coach at Colorado and Washington, was 40-for-59 passing for 367 yards, one touchdown and one interception in road wins at Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Raiders.

The Chargers finished 8-7 that season, third in the AFC West.

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