- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Washington Redskins drafted 10 players in April, nearly twice their average of the previous five years, and all survived Saturday’s final cut of 22 players in preparation for Thursday’s season opener at the Super Bowl defending champion New York Giants.

Punter Durant Brooks, a sixth-round pick from Georgia Tech, won a tight battle with three-year incumbent Derrick Frost in which, unusually, the tie went to the rookie.

“They said the competition was even, but it definitely wasn’t,” said Frost, who averaged 45.5 yards gross and 32.3 net to Brooks’ 42.8 and 34.5. “I started the last game, and I definitely outplayed him after they said it was even going in. It was a sham. There was no competition. I think [special teams coach Danny Smith’s] hands were tied.”

Brooks, the nation’s top punter as a senior last year, became the first Redskins’ draft pick at punter in 15 years because Frost slipped in 2007 after having a career year in 2006.

“We think Durant can be more consistent than Derrick was the last three years,” Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerrato said.

Other than Frost, the only players cut who had played in a regular-season game for the Redskins were offensive tackle Todd Wade (13 games, 11 starts), defensive lineman Ryan Boschetti (19, 2), fullback Nehemiah Broughton (6, 0) and receiver Anthony Mix (5,0).

Wade, a starter for Miami and Houston from 2000 to 2005, came to Washington in 2006 after recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. He started one game that year in place of injured Jon Jansen and came to camp last summer as the replacement for departed left guard Derrick Dockery. When Wade struggled with the transition, the Redskins traded for Pete Kendall. Wade took over at right tackle in Week 2 after Jansen was lost for the season, but a bad knee sidelined him in December in favor of rookie Stephon Heyer.

The high ankle sprain Wade suffered in this month’s preseason opener against Indianapolis had kept him out since and sealed his fate as the Redskins opted to keep nine linemen. Unlike the 31-year-old Wade, all four backups - Heyer (both tackle spots), Jason Fabini (tackle and guard), third-rounder Chad Rinehart (guard and tackle) and Justin Geisinger (center and guard) can play multiple positions.

“That’s true, but I think I would’ve been here if I hadn’t gotten hurt,” Wade said.

The most surprising cuts were those of receiver Billy McMullen, who led all NFL receivers with 20 catches this month, and running back Marcus Mason, whose 317 yards led all rushers.

Coach Jim Zorn had praised McMullen on Friday, but the Redskins chose to keep five receivers, including rookie Malcolm Kelly although he missed the entire preseason with hamstring and knee injuries.

Mason, a Georgetown Prep graduate who spent most of 2007 on the practice squad, averaged 4.8 yards a carry in the preseason. Washington also cut two former Maryland standouts, offensive lineman Andrew Crummey and linebacker David Holloway.

The biggest surprises on the roster are linebacker Alfred Fincher and safety Justin Hamilton, neither of whom played for the Redskins when camp opened July 20.

Fincher, who has played for New Orleans and Detroit, didn’t sign until July 31 but made 20 tackles in preseason, one shy of team leader Khary Campbell

The Redskins re-signed Hamilton, who played at Virginia Tech and has NFL experience with Cleveland, on Aug. 7. He totaled 15 tackles, two forced fumbles and a pass defensed in the preseason.

Defensive ends Chris Wilson, who had four sacks in limited duty in his 2007 NFL debut, and Rob Jackson both made Washington’s roster.

Fourth-rounder Justin Tryon struggled in preseason but still won the battle for the fifth cornerback spot over 2007 practice squad member Byron Westbrook, who has a sprained ankle, rookie free agent Matterral Richardson and Cedrick Holt.

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