- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

A pair of surprising moves on defense and a tough choice at running back highlighted the Washington Redskins’ final cuts yesterday.

Defensive end Regan Upshaw and cornerback Rashad Bauman were released, while running back Rock Cartwright survived a three-man competition against Sultan McCullough and John Simon. The Redskins’ roster now stands at 53 players heading in to Sunday’s opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The exits of Upshaw and Bauman qualified as mild surprises. Upshaw was one of the Redskins’ high-profile acquisitions at the outset of free agency in 2003. Upshaw’s five-year, $7.5million contract included a $2million signing bonus. Bauman was a third-round pick in 2002 who spent much of his Redskins tenure as the third cornerback.

Those two joined several reasonably well-known players already cut this preseason by coach Joe Gibbs — safety Ifeanyi Ohalete (Aug.17), linebacker Kevin Mitchell and wide receiver Cliff Russell (Aug.29), and cornerback Ralph Brown (Aug.31).

In all, the Redskins cut 23 players yesterday. The moves, determined by coaches and the personnel department in meetings that ran into Saturday night, were made to comply with a 4p.m. deadline. Gibbs was unavailable for comment.

The Redskins again have overhauled their roster. Just 25 of the 53 players on last season’s final roster are active heading into the opener against the Buccaneers.

Also released yesterday were tight end Fred Baxter, defensive lineman Ryan Boschetti, cornerback Rufus Brown, linebacker Chris Clemons, wide receiver Sean Dillard, wide receiver Dameane Douglas, offensive lineman Pita Elisara, offensive lineman Bill Ferrario, quarterback Gibran Hamdan, defensive lineman Cedric Killings, kicker Ola Kimrin, offensive lineman Ben Nowland, wide receiver Gari Scott, offensive lineman Marcus Spriggs, tight end Leonard Stephens, offensive lineman Daryl Terrell, cornerback Garnell Wilds, wide receiver Jafar Williams and defensive lineman Darrell Wright.

Among those players, Clemons received an injury settlement. Simon was placed on injured reserve, from which he will be waived once he rehabs his shoulder.

Upshaw, 29, disappointed as a free agent acquisition, in part because he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery just before training camp in 2003. He recorded just one sack and spent most of the year behind Bruce Smith. This year he was healthy but couldn’t beat out Ron Warner and Demetric Evans.

Bauman, 25, started three games as a Redskin. Despite being 5-foot-8, he played aggressively and competently when healthy. This year, he missed part of camp with a hamstring strain and apparently didn’t show enough to beat out Ade Jimoh, a second-year corner best known for failing to defend several big plays last season.

“It’s just part of the game,” Bauman said. “I caught that injury bug early, so I didn’t really make a good training camp. I got back as fast as I could, but it wasn’t fast enough.”

Despite Bauman’s background and the praise Brown and Wilds earned from assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams, the Redskins kept just four cornerbacks — Shawn Springs, Fred Smoot, Walt Harris (who missed much of the preseason with knee and calf injuries) and Jimoh.

Bauman’s departure extended the club’s sketchy performance in drafting in the middle and late rounds. Just four of 17 third-round or lower picks from 2000 to 2002 remain. However, guard Derrick Dockery, a 2003 third-round pick, has blossomed and appears to have been a nice find.

Cartwright, 24, clung to a final spot ahead of McCullough, who led the team in rushing this preseason (61 carries for 212 yards), and Simon, who demonstrated potential on special teams but missed the last two exhibitions with a shoulder injury. Ladell Betts also made the cut after scoring twice in Friday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons and appears to be Clinton Portis’ backup.

“I was nervous, but I couldn’t control that,” Cartwright said. “I just had to go out and make plays. I did the things I needed to do and made this roster.”

On the offensive line, draft picks Jim Molinaro and Mark Wilson were kept over veteran Spriggs. If tackle Chris Samuels or Kenyatta Jones gets injured, Molinaro or Wilson would play.

The Redskins will assemble the practice squad today. The team can add as many as eight young players, a group likely to include McCullough, Scott, Brown and Wilds. But even if a player joins the practice squad, he could be signed away by another NFL team at any time.

Note — Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Bryan Robinson is among the released players around the NFL that Washington is evaluating, a source familiar with the situation said. Robinson, 28, enjoyed a solid camp and, like current Redskins end Phillip Daniels, has a good relationship with Greg Blache, the former Bears coordinator who now serves as Redskins line coach. Several other teams are interested in Robinson, and his decision could come today.

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