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Redskins go for upgrade
Looking to upgrade their special teams, the Washington Redskins signed kicker Dave Rayner, a veteran of five NFL teams, and kick returner Dominique Dorsey, the Canadian Football League’s top special teams player in 2008.
Wednesday’s moves followed the January signings of former Chicago and Tennessee long snapper Jeremy Cain and punter Zac Atterberry, who attended camp with the Bears last summer as a rookie from NAIA school Lindenwood (Mo.)
Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham and punter Ryan Plackemeier finished at the bottom of the NFL at their positions in 2008, and Antwaan Randle El struggled on punt returns for a second straight year. Suisham is a restricted free agent, while Randle El is a candidate for a restructured contract. Long snapper Ethan Albright had another superb season in 2008, but he turns 38 in May and doesn’t have a contract for 2009. Plackemeier is under contract.
Rayner, 26, who finished his college career in 2003 as Michigan State’s career scoring leader, has kicked for Indianapolis, Green Bay (for whom he hit a franchise-record 54-yard field goal), Kansas City, San Diego and Cincinnati. Rayner’s career 71.2 percent field goal accuracy is slightly worse than Suisham’s 2008 mark of 72.1 percent.
The 5-foot-7, 170-pound Dorsey returned a missed field goal a CFL-record 129 yards in his pro debut for the Toronto Argonauts in 2007. The 25-year-old running back from UNLV led the CFL with 2,892 all-purpose yards in 2008 despite missing five games with injuries.
Cain, 27, starred at middle linebacker for Massachusetts. He played in five games for Chicago in 2004 and three in 2005. He learned to snap with Philadelphia in 2006 and got into nine games in that role for Tennessee in 2007 while being listed as a fullback.
The Redskins also signed former Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans (now a receiver) and guard Rueben Riley, who finished 2008 on their practice squad; fullback Jonathan Evans, who has spent time with four NFL teams but has yet to play a snap; and cornerback Michael Grant, who had stints with Jacksonville and Kansas City in 2008 but has also yet to make his NFL debut. Hagan caught eight passes in limited duty for St. Louis (2006-07) and Kansas City (2008).
Notes - There has been no progress on a contract for cornerback DeAngelo Hall, arguably the most coveted of the nine Redskins players who can become unrestricted free agents Feb. 27. Guard Pete Kendall and defensive end Demetric Evans (who filled in for the injured Phillip Daniels in 2008) are the other starters on that list.
Executive vice president Vinny Cerrato and coach Jim Zorn will lead the Redskins’ delegation to Indianapolis for next week’s scouting combine. Washington, which has the 13th pick, also has choices in the third, fifth and sixth rounds.
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