- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2005

The Washington Redskins got down to the 53-man roster limit yesterday by deciding to go without a big receiver, a veteran punter and three of their six draft choices.

The most surprising cuts were veteran 6-foot-2 receiver Kevin Dyson, who seemingly had revived his career with six catches in preseason, and middle linebacker Robert McCune, the fifth-round selection. Offensive tackle Mark Wilson, last year’s fifth-rounder, also was let go. So was Garnell Wilds, a favorite of assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams, as the Redskins kept only four cornerbacks: Shawn Springs, Walt Harris, Carlos Rogers and Ade Jimoh.

“It’s been a tough day,” said coach Joe Gibbs, who spent much of it explaining to 17 players why they were ex-Redskins. “We had to make some tough decisions.”

With Dyson and the previously waived Darnerien McCants gone, none of Washington’s five receivers is taller than 6 feet. And while McCune could wind up on the eight-man practice squad today, the only draft pick on the team other than first-rounders Rogers and Jason Campbell is running back Nehemiah Broughton, the seventh-rounder. Linebacker Zak Keasey, the lone undrafted rookie this year to make the team, won a job over draft picks McCune and Jared Newberry, the sixth-rounder who was cut last week.

“No one would have given Zak a chance mainly because of his height, but from the time he got here, he was very productive [on special teams],” Gibbs said of the 6-foot Princeton product, who came to rookie camp on a tryout basis. “We like his attitude. Zak went after it hard on every single down. He was somebody that earned it.”

Andy Groom’s big leg earned him the punting job over 14-year veteran Chris Mohr, who was signed Aug.29 when it became apparent incumbent Tom Tupa’s strained back wasn’t healing quickly.

Groom, who was cut by Tampa Bay as a rookie in 2003 and by San Francisco last summer, averaged 43 yards with a net of 35.4 on his 16 punts this preseason. That was enough for the coaches to keep the former Ohio State star, who turns 26 on Saturday, over the 39-year-old Mohr, who had a 40.2 average and a 34-yard net in Thursday’s preseason finale at Baltimore.

“Hopefully, we’ve got a young guy that’s on the come,” Gibbs said of Groom, who also will be the holder for kicker John Hall.

Running back Rock Cartwright, who figured to be in serious jeopardy when the Redskins used two of their six picks on backs Manuel White and Broughton, kept his job with a strong preseason, leading the team with 136 yards and eight tackles on special teams. White is on injured reserve.

Journeyman Ron Warner, who had all 3 of his career sacks for the Redskins last season, lost the battle for the fourth defensive end to Nic Clemons. After two years on the practice squad, Clemons, 25, joins his brother Chris, a linebacker, on the team. The Redskins’ last brothers were the Turks, Matt and Dan, from 1997 to 1999.

“I was nervous this morning,” Nic Clemons said. “I woke up at 7 and kept looking at my phone every five minutes, but I never did get a call. My mom is really happy with both of us on the same team.”

Warner disputed he’s over the hill at 29.

“They can’t argue with my production, so they told me they wanted to go younger,” Warner said. “There’s nothing I can do about that. I’m upset, but I guess I’ll have to go home and look for a job.”

In contrast, veteran centers Cory Raymer, 32, and Lennie Friedman, 29, both survived while Wilson, 24, was cut. Friedman, who also can play guard and blocking tight end, would play center only if starter Casey Rabach and Raymer both were injured. Ray Brown, 42, is the top backup to starting tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen.

Reserve tight end Brian Kozlowski, 34, who re-signed on the eve of camp, was kept over Robert Johnson, who’s nine years younger, three inches taller and 13 pounds heavier. Receiver Jimmy Farris was cut despite catching two touchdown passes against the Ravens.

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