- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Possibly concerned about the severity of Santana Moss‘ strained groin and clearly without confidence that the in-house receivers can fill the void, the Washington Redskins signed 17-year veteran Keenan McCardell yesterday.

The Redskins and McCardell first talked before training camp, but he opted to sign with the Houston Texans, who released him before the regular season.

McCardell worked out yesterday morning, passed his physical and participated in a two-hour practice, the Redskins’ first following six days off.

Despite being 37, McCardell said, “Retirement didn’t cross my mind. My wife kind of pushed me out of the house. I want to help out as much as I can. We’ve got some great receivers here, and I want to add some leadership and make some plays and help out.”

McCardell might have to step in Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Moss was injured late in the Redskins’ 24-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sept. 23 and did not practice yesterday, though he said he felt “10 times better than last week.”

“Being the guy that I am, I want to play so bad,” he said. “But I’m not going to put the team in a bad situation. … I’ll do the right things to make sure it gets better.”

Coach Joe Gibbs said Moss might participate in parts of practice tomorrow.

Moss missed most of the spring and summer, including minicamp, with a groin-area injury. Taking caution was the approach then, and Moss said his recovery plan — albeit with a quicker return — will remain the same.

The Redskins are the only NFL team that doesn’t have at least three receivers with receptions. Moss has 12 catches and Antwaan Randle El 11. Brandon Lloyd and James Thrash have played but are without a catch, and Reche Caldwell has yet to see action.

Lloyd was the only healthy receiver not to participate with McCardell and quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Todd Collins in post-practice drills.

Couple Moss’ injury with the slow start by tight end Chris Cooley (six catches) and the Redskins felt the need to augment their passing game, which has a league-low 44 completions.

The Redskins released safety Omar Stoutmire to make room for McCardell, who has 861 catches for 11,117 yards and 62 touchdowns.

“He can contribute a lot very, very quickly, which is the reason why we opted to go with him,” Gibbs said. “He fits great with us. He knows the system inside and out. When he came in today, he was running quality routes right off the bat.”

Said associate head coach-offense Al Saunders: “Keenan was the obvious choice. In our opinion, he was the best receiver out there.”

McCardell started his career with the Redskins in 1991 as a 12th-round draft pick. He spent the year on injured reserve with a knee injury but did receive a Super Bowl ring. He then played for Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and San Diego.

McCardell’s best years came with the Jaguars, where he averaged 83.2 catches over six seasons playing with current Redskins third-string quarterback Mark Brunell.

“I’m a huge Keenan fan,” Brunell said. “I think he can help us. He’s a great route runner. Keenan will probably tell you that he’s not the guy who’s going to run straight down the field and beat every defensive back out there. But he knows the game. He understands what defenses are doing, how to adjust and what works.”

Reading between the lines, McCardell’s arrival isn’t the best news for Caldwell and Lloyd. Signed Sept. 11, Caldwell has been inactive for the last two games.

“I feel I’m ready to play,” he said. “I’ve caught up learning the offense. Whenever they call me, I’ll be ready.”

Lloyd has been the Redskins’ fourth receiver since losing his starting spot to Randle El and the top backup position to Thrash.

If Moss can’t play, Saunders said Thrash would start opposite Randle El. There are six receivers on the roster, and the Redskins usually dress only four.

“It will sort itself out,” McCardell said. “It’s a long season. To go where we want to go, we’ll all have to make plays.”

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