Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Safety Sean Taylor’s ongoing absence from the team isn’t because of unhappiness with his contract as had been believed, Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday.

“I really don’t think [it’s] contractual,” Gibbs said after the first of 14 days of voluntary organized team activities that followed offseason workouts that began March 21. “I think Sean understands he’s got a contract. And we expect him to honor it.”

Having yet to hear from Taylor this offseason, Gibbs recently sent contract negotiator Eric Schaffer to meet with Taylor’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, but to no avail. Rosenhaus maintained his no-comment policy on Taylor’s situation yesterday.

“It’s kind of hard because there’s no interaction,” Gibbs said. “I was hoping at some point we would hit a breakthrough. … It will probably take me having a chance to sit down and talk with Sean to really figure out why he’s not here.”

However, Gibbs said he “would be in shock” if Taylor misses anything mandatory like the June 17-19 minicamp. Running back Clinton Portis agreed, saying his ex-University of Miami teammate will be on time for the start of training camp July 31.

Taylor, the fifth pick in the 2004 draft, endured a tumultuous rookie year during which he changed agents twice; was fined for leaving a mandatory NFL symposium, late hits and improper socks; and was suspended for a game by the Redskins after being arrested for driving under the influence. Those charges were later dropped.

“Sean knows his responsibilities,” Portis said. “He had a long season, going through the alcohol thing and all that. When you’re under the spotlight forever [and] you finally get away from it, you want to stay out of it for a little while.”

Portis can relate to Taylor, having skipped the voluntary offseason program after his rookie season in Denver, preferring to work out in Miami with several other former Hurricanes.

“I’m not justifying Sean’s actions … [but] I’m sure if he has a Pro Bowl-type year, everybody will forget about this,” Portis said.

The Redskins have all but forgotten about receiver Rod Gardner, one of just three players to start the past four seasons. Gibbs said “we’re going to try to do what’s best for the team.” Translation: Gardner will be cut after June 1 to save the Redskins $2.1 million against this year’s salary cap.

While running back Chad Morton was able to do some work yesterday as he continues to recover from knee surgery, linebackers LaVar Arrington and Micheal Barrow and defensive tackle Brandon Noble were all excused because of similar ailments. Arrington and Noble might miss minicamp but should be ready come July. By then, the 35-year-old Barrow might well join Gardner as a cap casualty.

“It’s been a long process that we’ve all been frustrated by,” Gibbs said of Barrow’s nearly 10-month absence from action. “We’re trying to get to a point where he can be turned loose.”

Defensive end Phillip Daniels, safeties Matt Bowen and Andre Lott, offensive tackle Jon Jansen, kicker John Hall, cornerback Ade Jimoh and linebacker Khary Campbell, all of whom finished 2004 on injured reserve, were on the field yesterday. So was offensive lineman Ray Brown, who had offseason surgery. Less than a month after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst from the base of his spine, Pro Bowl outside linebacker Marcus Washington did some light work.

Washington’s defense, which was third overall last year, is still ahead of its offense, which was third-to-last in 2004.

“It looked like the blitz drill out there,” Gibbs said. “We had to go over there and talk things over and at least get a few plays where we could throw the ball downfield.”

Still, Gibbs and quarterback Patrick Ramsey were pleased with the first day for the new shotgun-enhanced offense against a defense.

Note — Although the Redskins certainly could use another pass rusher, Gibbs said they won’t consider signing outside linebacker Peter Boulware, who recently was let go by Baltimore.

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