- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2001

The Washington Redskins gave up on the rehabilitation efforts for tight end Stephen Alexander and linebacker Kevin Mitchell yesterday, placing both starters on injured reserve.
The club also cut reserve defensive end Dorian Boose, dissatisfied with the veteran's production.
Alexander, 26, went to his first Pro Bowl last season but struggled this year before suffering two ankle injuries. The first, a high ankle sprain, kept him out of four games. He came back for two games in a limited capacity but aggravated the injury; an MRI later revealed he had been playing with a fracture.
Mitchell, 30, won the starting job in the middle and enjoyed a solid season before injuring his ankle Dec.16 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He returned to the game after leaving for X-rays but since has worn a protective boot.
"I talked to [Alexander on Tuesday]; he was not going to be able to play for the next couple weeks," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "The same thing was true with Kevin Mitchell. He's still in the boot."
The absence of Alexander, who had 47 catches last season, has seemed to hamper an offense built to feature a pass-catching tight end. Schottenheimer stressed that the Redskins' finish out of the playoffs shouldn't be attributed to Alexander's injury, but he acknowledged that the 1998 second-round pick has been missed.
"You're looking at 50 or 60 catches, and you're looking at a guy who knows how to get open," Schottenheimer said. "And let's face it, the ability to throw the ball effectively to the tight end is important. He's the guy who's generally running routes close to the quarterback. He's a place you can go [when youre in trouble]."
Alexander's future with the organization is uncertain, because he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Mitchell, under contract one more year, should return and at least compete for his starting job again.
Among other injuries, three Redskins missed practice: linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), guard Ben Coleman (knee) and wide receiver Michael Westbrook (knee). Each is expected to play Sunday at New Orleans.
Filling the roster spots of Alexander, Mitchell and Boose were three rookies: offensive lineman Terrance Simmons, linebacker Lemar Marshall and wide receiver Justin Skaggs. Simmons and Marshall spent time with the club earlier this year; Skaggs was promoted from the practice squad.
With regard to Boose, the bulk of his snaps should be given to rookie Otis Leverette, an athletic prospect who saw some action in October and early November.

Bailey: Play me at WR
Several Redskins in recent weeks have commented that the club is just a few players from the NFL's elite. Of course, no one said at which positions those players are needed except cornerback Champ Bailey, who boldly said how Washington could improve its offense.
"I'll tell you what: If I played receiver, we'd probably be a little better on offense," Bailey said. "You can write that down. I've been pleading my case all year, but obviously I haven't been strong enough in my opinion."
Last year Bailey, while earning his first Pro Bowl invitation, caught three passes for 78 yards. He now has begged two coaching staffs to renew the two-way role he held at the University of Georgia. He doesn't expect things to change, though, saying, "I doubt it. But until somebody puts me out there, you won't know what I can do."
Schottenheimer has wanted Bailey to focus on playing corner, where the third-year star has yielded a few more catches than expected this season. Against the Saints Bailey will get another stiff test, probably by shadowing receiver Joe Horn (78 catches, 1,208 yards).
Horn, who caught 94 balls for 1,340 yards last season, might be the league's most underrated wideout. Schottenheimer recalled trying to convert him to cornerback in Kansas City. Bailey said Horn might be the NFL's best at getting open and at running after the catch, and he acknowledged Horn's status as the best receiver no one's heard of.
"Oh, he is," Bailey said. "He's definitely one of those guys who has to go out every week and earn his respect. Unless you're playing against him, you really don't respect him. I do, because I know what he can do."

Gardner gets boost
The 44 catches by rookie wide receiver Rod Gardner have earned him a pair of raises in 2004 and 2005, increasing his salary by $250,000 and $225,000, respectively.
Gardner remains in contention to have the most receiving yards of any rookie in Redskins history. He is on pace for 818 yards, which would break Art Monk's team record of 797 yards. Monk also set a club rookie mark with 58 catches; Gardner is on pace for 50.

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