- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2009

If there was a surprise among the five players cut by the Washington Redskins on Sunday, it was four-year veteran Alfred Fincher.

A backup linebacker and special teams player, Fincher appeared in 14 games for the Redskins last season and looked impressive at times. But the solid preseason play of fifth-round draft pick Cody Glenn and converted defensive end Chris Wilson, among others, got Fincher caught in a numbers game.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Fincher, because he’s worked really hard and he has improved,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “But to us, there was kind of a ceiling there on him, compared to some of the other guys that are coming on.

“He may have been more seasoned, but sometimes with a younger guy there is a potential that you like in speed or a flash that I think coaches are looking at. You kind of give those guys a little bit longer look.”

Also cut were journeyman wide receiver and former Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans, safety Michael Grant, offensive lineman Devin Clark and defensive tackle Michael Marquardt. Clark spent all of last season on the Redskins’ practice squad. Hagans was signed to the practice squad in December. Grant and Marquardt were street free agents.

Hagans didn’t help himself by dropping a pass against Baltimore in the first preseason game.

“It wasn’t just that one play,” Zorn said. “As the preseason starts, the guys that don’t continue to rise up and really make a difference are the guys you have to question and make a decision on.”

Zorn, however, predicted that Hagans and Fincher are likely to be picked up by other teams.

Kicking caravan

With nothing substantial determined in Friday’s preseason game with New England, the battle between incumbent kicker Shaun Suisham and challenger Dave Rayner will continue during practice heading into the final preseason game Thursday in Jacksonville. The two again will compete in a “kick off” on Monday or Tuesday, as they did last week when they fought to a draw. Each made good on six attempts.

“I put them both in critical situations, and they both went 6-for-6, which didn’t make it easier for me,” special teams coach Danny Smith said.

As for kicking off, “they’re very similar guys,” Smith said. “They really are. If you look at them statistically, they’re very similar. Their past is very similar, and that’s why it’s been a very difficult decision to make.”

Rayner kicked a 25-yard field goal against the Patriots. Suisham missed a 52-yard attempt that would have helped his chances considerably. But, Smith said, “one kick doesn’t make a season; one kick doesn’t break a season.”

Nothing special

Marcus Mason was the league’s top rusher during the 2008 preseason before he was cut by the Redskins. He leads the team in rushing this preseason, although he is averaging just 3.5 yards a carry (compared with 4.8 last year).

With Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright - the longest-tenured running back trio in the league - ahead of him, Mason needs to distinguish himself on special teams to earn a roster spot.

Which he hasn’t exactly done so far.

“He’s been on three [NFL] teams, and he’s never played in a [regular-season] game,” Smith said. “Let’s not name him MVP today.

“The kid had never played special teams, so we’ve worked at it all the time. He has improved from when we had him before. He really has. He’s done a good job. He’s in position to make plays. That’s the first step. Now he’s gotta start making those plays, and when he starts making those plays, we’ll consider him for one of those core positions. He has a chance to do it.”

Medical report

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth missed practice Sunday.

“He was curled up with some stomach problems,” Zorn said. “No, I won’t elaborate, but we did the right thing.”

Also sitting out were Portis and Mason (both with bruised ribs) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (calf). Cartwright, who missed the Patriots game with a groin injury, returned to the field. Safety Kareem Moore, who injured his hamstring during the game, also practiced.

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