- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2006

As 2005 turned into 2006, the Washington Redskins were enjoying their best season in six years. But as the Redskins closed out their ugly 2006 season last night against the visiting New York Giants, several veteran players knew they might be wearing Washington uniforms for the final time.

Defensive end Renaldo Wynn, a Redskins player for five years, said he planned to take a special look around FedEx Field after the game in case it marked his farewell.

“I know this might be my last game as a Redskin,” said Wynn, who lost his starting job when Washington signed Andre Carter in March and whose $4.03 million salary cap number in 2007 is prohibitive for a backup. “I hope they decide to keep the core guys around, and I feel I’m one of those guys. But I also know they can’t keep everybody.”

Wynn, who will be 33 when next season starts, tried not to get too sentimental about what could be the end of a stint that began after he signed as a free agent from Jacksonville in 2002.

As the player representative, Wynn knows full well the NFL is a business, but he and fellow veteran end Phillip Daniels said they have never been part of a unit that is as close as the Redskins’ defensive line. The two of them, tackles Ryan Boschetti, Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave’a and end Demtric Evans have been together the last three seasons.

“We can talk about anything with each other,” Daniels said. “We play together. We support each other.”

Daniels, who turns 34 in March and has slumped from a team-high eight sacks in 2005 to three this year, said his age shouldn’t be a factor in whether he returns.

“I’m not worried about my age,” Daniels said. “I feel young. I’m moving around like I’m young. When I can’t move around anymore, I’ll call it quits.”

While his $3.27 million cap number isn’t unreasonable for a starter, Daniels said he gladly will rework the deal.

“Of course, I’ll restructure my contract,” Daniels said. “I’ve done that a number of times. I want to be a Redskin, but if they don’t want me here anymore, I can’t control that. I’ve given it my all for three years. I’ve played through injuries. I’ve played hurt all this year, and I’ve played well. I can’t do anymore than I’ve done.”

Daniels said breaking up the core of the defense — himself, Griffin, Salave’a, linebackers Lemar Marshall and Marcus Washington, cornerback Shawn Springs and safety Sean Taylor all joined Wynn as starters in 2004 — won’t return assistant head coach Gregg Williams’ unit from near the bottom of the league to the top 10, where it ranked in 2004 and 2005.

“They’ve made changes before, and they didn’t help,” Daniels said referring to the departures of defensive starters Antonio Pierce, Fred Smoot, LaVar Arrington and Ryan Clark during the past two offseasons. “Our coaches know what our problems are, and they’re going to fix them. Keeping the nucleus together is the most important thing.”

Quarterback Mark Brunell, who was benched in favor of Jason Campbell six weeks ago, knows he won’t return as a backup with a $6.84 million cap number.

Brunell, who had a solid 86.5 passer rating this season, believes he still can be an effective NFL starter. However, he’s also realistic, knowing most of the teams considering changing quarterbacks aren’t looking for a player who will be 37 in September.

Therefore, Brunell said if he has to remain a backup and take a huge pay cut, he would rather do so in Washington, where he’s comfortable with the players and coaches as well as the offense.

Lloyd inactive

Redskins receiver Brandon Lloyd’s forgettable first season with the team ended with no touchdown catches after he was made inactive because of what the team said was bronchitis.

Lloyd, who was replaced, by Antwaan Randle El in the starting lineup, had 23 catches for 365 yards. He played sparingly last week at St. Louis.

Receiver David Patten was active for the first time since Oct. 1 against Jacksonville.

Running to a record

Rock Cartwright returned six kickoffs for 135 yards against the Giants to finish with 1,541 yards in kickoff returns this season, breaking Brian Mitchell’s Redskins record of 1,478. Mitchell, who has more return yards than any player in NFL history, set the mark in 1994.

Cartwright also had 64 kickoff returns this season, breaking Mitchell’s record of 59 set in 1998. That’s an unenviable record because it means the defense is giving up too many points and thus too many kickoffs.

Cartwright’s 24.1 average was Washington’s fifth highest in 17 years, trailing Mitchell’s 25.6 (1995) and 25.5 (1994) and Ladell Betts’ 25.9 (2005) and 24.6 (2002).

“It’ll be great to have the record, and what I really want is a chance to show people what I can do on offense,” Cartwright said before the game.

Injury report

Ade Jimoh suffered a concussion on the kickoff to open the second half and did not return. Starting weak side linebacker Warrick Holdman left with a shoulder injury in the third quarter and also did not return.

Staff writer Ryan O’Halloran contributed to this article.

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