- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2000

The Washington Redskins reiterated their win-now philosophy in yesterday's final round of roster cuts, keeping a number of proven veterans over younger developmental players who enjoyed solid preseasons.

Among those remaining are 15th-year punter Tommy Barnhardt, 10th-year defensive lineman Nolan Harrison and seventh-year cornerback Tyronne Drakeford. Barnhardt won the only open starting job over Rodney Williams, a powerful but erratic 23-year-old, while Harrison and Drakeford made the roster despite missing almost the entire preseason with injuries.

Thirteen players were waived to meet the NFL's deadline. The roster now contains 54 players (one more than normal) because Tre Johnson is suspended for Sunday's opener against Carolina. The club learned late in the day that Johnson does not count against this week's roster; running back Chad Dukes, told in the morning that he had been waived, remains a Redskin.

Dukes, 28, would have been the oldest player cut; instead it was 27-year-old cornerback Tim Denton. Denton and defensive tackle Barron Tanner, 26, were the only players released with any game experience.

Drakeford compared the Redskins' commitment to experienced players such as himself to San Francisco's attitude in 1994, when he was a second-round draft pick by the 49ers and the club was stocking up for the championship it would win that season.

"[That] team kept a lot of older guys, and ended up releasing a lot of younger guys, because they were trying to make that run," Drakeford said. "They wanted guys who had a little more feel, who understood what it took to get to the next level… . Coming here was pretty much similar."

Redskins coach Norv Turner, however, claimed that the club did not keep fewer young players than it has in years past.

"We have as many young players [who] are players for the future as we've ever had probably more," Turner said. "When we get our practice squad together, I think we'll be very similar, from a numbers standpoint, to where we've been."

The only draft pick waived was defensive tackle Delbert Cowsette, a seventh-rounder out of Maryland. Ultimately five picks made the Redskins' final roster linebacker LaVar Arrington (the draft's second overall pick), left tackle Chris Samuels (third overall), cornerback Lloyd Harrison (third round), guard Mookie Moore (fourth round) and quarterback Todd Husak (sixth round).

Also waived were Williams, wide receivers Derrius Thompson, Marcus Stiggers and Corey Allen, offensive linemen Cornell Green, Ryan Kalich and Juan Porter, defensive tackle Jerry DeLoach, fullback Bryan Johnson and quarterback Leon Murray.

There were several surprises, most notably the decisions not to keep a fifth wide receiver or a true third defensive tackle. The Redskins instead elected to keep two promising special-teamers (David Terrell and Reggie Givens) and rely on a pair of defensive ends who can play tackle (Kenard Lang and Nolan Harrison).

"As I've said during the last month, the numbers in terms of positions weren't the key to me," Turner said. "It was picking the guys that give us the best chance to win."

The Redskins now will see whether their decision to charge admission to training camp and thus admit scouts and opposing personnel directors comes back to hurt them. The five-man practice squad will be assembled today, and several waived Redskins could be grabbed by another team.

"I think that [idea] is overrated," Turner said. "It's real hard to claim a guy [off waivers] and [fit] him [into] your 53-man roster."

The Redskins picked Barnhardt because of his consistency and abilities to punt directionally and hold for field goals. Barnhardt, 37, overcame back spasms last week to punt five times Friday for an average of 43.6 yards.

"I'm extremely [sold] on Barnhardt," Turner said. "I think he'll have a great year for us."

Williams' improving consistency during the past month challenged Barnhardt. Williams seemed reasonably upbeat as he left Redskin Park, hopeful that he can learn some of the game's finer points to go with his strong leg.

"It came down to they're a Super Bowl-caliber team," Williams said. "It's really hard to go into a very important season for the coaches and the players with someone who doesn't have a ton of NFL experience."

Friday's 17-10 victory over Pittsburgh marked the first preseason action for Nolan Harrison (85 career starts) and Drakeford (43). Harrison played well after rehabilitating the knee he sprained in the first week of camp, while Drakeford, still limited by a strained hamstring, gave up an early deep catch but later redeemed himself.

The two Redskins with experience took their cuts the hardest. Denton played 32 games for Washington in 1998 and '99 as a nickel- and dime-back and a special-teamer, while Tanner played 29 games for Miami in 1997 and '98 before being inactive all of 1999 as a Redskin.

Denton has been on the bubble each summer since going undrafted out of Sam Houston in 1996, but he was still upset yesterday.

"I don't have too much to say about nothing," Denton said. "I'm out, man."

Tanner acknowledged his chances diminished when Lang filled in effectively for injured tackle Dan Wilkinson.

"I got caught up in a numbers thing," Tanner said. "I had a feeling [I would get waived], once they put Kenard down at tackle. Don't get me wrong Kenard's a hell of a fine player but that hurt my chances."

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