- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making their first changes to the 53-man roster this year, the Washington Redskins signed running back Shaun Alexander, safety Mike Green and punter Ryan Plackemeier on Tuesday.

Punter Durant Brooks was waived/injured, safety Justin Hamilton was released and safety Reed Doughty was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list with a back injury.

All three newcomers played for the Seattle Seahawks last year, when coach Jim Zorn and Redskins assistant head coach/running backs Stump Mitchell were on the staff.

The Redskins added Alexander after Ladell Betts sprained his knee in Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Rams. Doughty’s injury was deemed serious enough to sideline him for several weeks, and Green fills the void for an experienced safety. And Plackemeier replaces Brooks, who ranks last in the NFL in net punting average.

None of the additions were made available for comment, and Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerrato declined to speak with reporters at Redskin Park.

Alexander, 31, played his first eight seasons for the Seahawks. The three-time Pro Bowl selection rushed for 1,000 or more yards five times and scored 100 touchdowns in Seattle. Plackemeier, 24, posted a 38.2-yard net average in two seasons with the Seahawks, but the team released him last month. The Redskins rank last in punting and have allowed two touchdown returns. Brooks also was nursing a hip flexor/groin injury.

Green, 31, started his career in Chicago playing for Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache. Green has 443 tackles in 96 games.

Alexander, the 2005 NFL MVP, is the most high profile of the signings. After the Seahawks released him, he visited Cincinnati, New Orleans and Detroit. He flew overnight to Northern Virginia and showed enough during a workout to earn a contract offer.

“He looks fit,” Zorn said. “He’s got a lot of want-to with his attitude. He has worked out and kept himself fit, but you have to get hit, and he hasn’t been hit yet.”

Zorn wouldn’t commit to playing Alexander on Sunday against Cleveland and said Rock Cartwright would serve as the No. 2 back until Alexander is ready.

Betts is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks with a sprained lateral collateral ligament. Zorn wouldn’t speculate on what role Alexander could play upon Betts’ return.

“This thing could be temporary, or it could run the entire season,” Zorn said. “We’re not going to put some sort of limitation on where we’re at in four weeks, two weeks, however it takes for Ladell to get back. But Shaun knows the situation.”

Clinton Portis leads the NFL with 136 carries, and Zorn said Alexander is comfortable playing a reserve role that might include only six to 10 rushes a game.

Safety became a need when Doughty suffered a nerve injury in his back after the Redskins’ Week 5 win at Philadelphia. He entered the year as the starting strong safety but became a reserve after rookie Chris Horton emerged with three takeaways in Week 2.

Zorn said the injury caused numbness in Doughty’s foot and he could face surgery.

Hamilton played only the first two games before becoming a healthy inactive.

“It was something I could see coming, probably not today but before the end of the season because I was basically stealing paychecks - I didn’t do anything,” he said. “I put on a sweatsuit on game days. I’ll be honest - I’m shocked I lasted this long and made it to this point.”

Green has overcome Achilles tendon and knee injuries and also can play special teams.

“Greg Blache is very comfortable with him, and his name was brought up several times, but it was more of a risk earlier because we didn’t feel he was quite ready [physically],” Zorn said. “It’s less of a risk now because he has been working out and has been getting himself ready.”

Before his release became official, Brooks was at Redskin Park for two sessions of treatment and said he would have been healthy enough to play this week. He began to feel the injury at Dallas on Sept. 28.

“I thought it was just a little sore, and I wanted to push through it and I tried to tough it out, but it got progressively worse over the next couple weeks,” he said. “I had to cut my reps in practice and cut my reps in warmups. But I don’t want to come out and say it was the reason I was punting bad.”

Brooks received a pain-killing injection before Sunday’s loss against the Rams but said he still felt discomfort during each of his four punts. He averaged 32.1 yards net this year.

Seattle released Plackemeier, its seventh-round pick in 2006, after one game this year and signed former Green Bay punter Jon Ryan. Plackemeier beat out three other punters in a tryout Tuesday.

“What makes the difference is that the punter comes in here and punts well,” Zorn said. “That’s what we have to hope and bank on.”

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