- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor will stand trial Jan.5 after pleading not guilty at Fairfax County General District Court yesterday in connection with his DUI arrest in late October.

Taylor faces two charges, DUI and refusing a breathalyzer test.

The rookie, who has drawn attention for a range of off- and on-field incidents since being selected with the draft’s fifth overall pick, was excused from team activities for the day at Redskin Park. He will be back today and play Sunday against the New York Giants.

Fairfax-based attorney Warren McLain said he expects Taylor to win the upcoming case, which is scheduled to take place three days after the Redskins’ season ends.

“From what I know, I believe he’s innocent,” McLain said in a telephone interview. “I’m not satisfied that there was probable cause for his arrest.”

McLain said he expects to challenge the manner in which Taylor was advised of Virginia’s implied consent law, which deals with the charge of refusing a breath or blood-alcohol test. Taylor stands to lose his license for 12 months if convicted of that charge.

Coming weeks will be used for discovery, in which the prosecution must turn over evidence it plans to use against Taylor, and for subpoenaing witnesses. McLain said he plans to call several witnesses to testify Taylor wasn’t intoxicated, though he declined to name them. An Associated Press report said several Redskins players will be among those testifying.

Taylor was pulled over at 2:45 a.m. on Oct.28 on the Capital Beltway. He apparently had been at a birthday party for Redskins wide receiver Rod Gardner. Police say Taylor failed a field sobriety test and then refused a breathalyzer. McLain, however, said he thinks Taylor actually passed the field test.

Coach Joe Gibbs deactivated Taylor for that week’s game, a 28-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but said Taylor could make a fresh start. Yesterday Gibbs said he is eager for the incident to be resolved, indicating that it no longer is an issue within the team.

“I think we’re fine,” Gibbs said. “That’s in the past.”

No timetable

Amid continuing questions about his future, Gibbs said he wouldn’t hesitate to quit if he were failing at his job. However, the coach offered no timetable for judging his progress.

“If I ever reached the feeling that I was holding things back, I’d fix it,” Gibbs said. “But I think we’re just getting started.”

Former Redskins coach Steve Spurrier often cited a three-year timetable, after which he was to have resigned if he hadn’t turned the team around. Spurrier resigned at the end of last season, the second on his five-year, $25 million contract. Gibbs has a five-year, $28 million deal.

Talk about Gibbs’ status began with an ESPN report before Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. The report said Gibbs, a diabetic, was concerned about his health and might step aside at the end of the season.

Gibbs emphatically denied the report that night and several other times in recent days, telling both reporters and Redskins players that he isn’t going anywhere. In addition, a club source who deals with Gibbs frequently said the coach continues to plan well into the future with no indication that he is considering leaving.

Meanwhile, Gibbs reiterated his support for his offensive coaches, many of whom worked with him during his first stint and now are drawing scrutiny because of their ages. Gibbs’ offense is on pace to be the lowest scoring since the team moved to Washington in 1937, but he puts full blame on himself.

“I’m the guy on offense,” Gibbs said. “I think we have terrific coaches on offense. It’s me.”

Extra points

Lennie Friedman is practicing at right guard, while Ray Brown is back at right tackle. Starting right guard Randy Thomas (hamstring) is doubtful, and last week’s right tackle, rookie Mark Wilson (knee), questionable. Thomas did some light work at practice but nothing of consequence. Wilson sat out.

Among other injuries, linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee) is out, defensive end Phillip Daniels (groin) is questionable and wide receiver Laveranues Coles (hip) is probable. Daniels and Coles practiced. …

Gibbs called the play on which linebacker Marcus Washington ran Steelers punt returner Antwaan Randle El out of bounds and saved a touchdown Sunday “one of the best plays I’ve ever seen a guy make.”

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