- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 19, 2005

Taylor Jacobs caught just 19 passes the past two years and Kevin Dyson only two. Yet both could play crucial roles in a Washington Redskins receiving corps that’s unsettled beyond new starters Santana Moss (absent yesterday for personal reasons) and David Patten.

The only other receivers on Washington’s minicamp roster who have caught an NFL pass are James Thrash, at 30 more valuable on special teams than on offense, and Darnerien McCants, who caught just five balls last year while being activated for just five games.

Jacobs, Washington’s top pick (second round) in the 2003 draft, hasn’t shown the drive that can turn talent into production.

“I asked Taylor yesterday, ‘Why are you not a starter?’” Patten said. “He has all the tools. It’s a matter of him believing in himself. … Everyone looks good now, but we’re in shorts. When we put the pads on and guys start putting their hands on you, that’s when the toughness shows up. Forget about speed. Forget about quickness. If you’re not tough enough, you won’t be any good.”

Jacobs, 24, has shown his toughness on special teams, but he doesn’t seem to have much of that “I can’t be stopped” swagger.

“I feel like I’m getting better, so I can push [to start],” Jacobs said. “I feel I’m as talented as anybody out here. I just need a break. When I get that break, hopefully I can run with it.”

Dyson, who turns 30 on Thursday, isn’t the speedster he was as a Tennessee Titans starter from 1998 to 2002, but he believes he can still contribute despite having missed most of 2003 after tearing an Achilles tendon and being out of the league in 2004.

Assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams, who was with Dyson in Tennessee from 1998 to 2000, raved about his leadership and smarts and said he has made some fine plays the past couple of days. (The media isn’t allowed to watch team drills.)

“I don’t know about a last shot,” said Dyson, who had feelers from Detroit, Tampa Bay and Tennessee before signing with Washington on June6. “If I go out and make plays and make the most of the opportunities I get, then people will take notice and say, ‘He does have some years left.’

“I still know how to get open. Experience helps. You know to get in and out of your routes and use your body on a deep ball. It’s a different phase of my career. I’m not going to be a starter like I have been. I see myself like [Carolina’s] Ricky Proehl from now on, a productive backup with the capability of starting.”

Cartwright fights odds

Running back Rock Cartwright was a 5-foot-7 revelation in 2003, gaining 411 yards and scoring four touchdowns despite starting just three games. Cartwright used his tenacity and his 223 pounds to forge 11 first downs in 14 third-and-1 attempts.

However, the acquisition of Pro Bowl runner Clinton Portis from Denver last March made Cartwright a forgotten man. His only two carries of 2004 came in the finale after Portis was hurt. Then the Redskins used two of their six picks in April’s draft on physical backs, fourth-rounder Manuel White and seventh-rounder Nehemiah Broughton. So even though Cartwright was retained as a restricted free agent, his hold on a roster spot is tenuous at best.

“Last year was frustrating and then after the draft, I called [running backs coach] Earnest [Byner] and asked him what the deal was,” said Cartwright, who sat out yesterday’s practice after bruising a knee Friday. “He told me to just keep doing what I do. I want to be a Redskin, but I also know that we have two great backs in Clinton and Ladell [Betts]. I look at every day as an interview, not just for the Redskins, but for the other 31 teams.”

Dixon signed

The Redskins signed safety Tony Dixon, who played in 52 games the past four years for Dallas. Dixon, who turned 26 yesterday, wasn’t re-signed by the Cowboys. Dixon, who worked out yesterday at Redskin Park, made his only career interception against Washington’s Patrick Ramsey in 2002.

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