- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Washington Redskins released veteran receiver and special teams standout James Thrash on Friday after he was unable to pass a physical because of a bulging disk in his neck.

Thrash missed all of the team’s on-field workouts this spring because of the injury, which developed in mid-March.

Thrash, who played nine of his 12 NFL seasons with the Redskins, caught nine passes for 81 yards and a touchdown last year, and his 22 special teams tackles were second on the Redskins.

The 34-year-old met with coach Jim Zorn on Thursday.

“He’s got a situation that’s not improving,” Zorn said after the Redskins’ final organized team activity.

In a statement Friday, Zorn said: “I talked with James and we agreed that this was the best way to proceed. James can focus on getting healthy and we can move forward. … He was a great player, teammate and team leader.”

Thrash was unavailable for comment, but the release likely means he was unwilling to undergo immediate surgery for the injury and his career is over after 165 games, 290 receptions and 22 touchdowns.

Thrash said last week that if he was told by the Redskins he had to undergo surgery, his decision to play or retire would need to be made before the opening of training camp July 30.

Thrash’s release opens up playing time for Malcolm Kelly and leaves the No. 5 spot open for a group that includes Marques Hagans and rookie Marko Mitchell.

In the first half of 2008, Thrash was the No. 3 receiver behind Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. But after averaging around 27 snaps in the first 10 games, his role was diminished as Zorn developed more confidence in Devin Thomas and Kelly became healthy.

In the last six games, Thrash averaged six snaps a contest — compared to 15 for Thomas. In a three-game stretch, Kelly averaged 25 snaps before his knee issue shut him down.

Thrash made the Redskins’ roster in 1997 as a college free agent from Missouri Southern. Following four season as a role player, he signed with Philadelphia, where he started for three years and averaged 55 catches and five touchdowns before the Eagles traded him to the Redskins in 2004.

During his second stint with the Redskins, Thrash started only 15 of 72 games and scored only four touchdowns but carved a niche as a Joe Gibbs favorite and special teams contributor.

• Staff writer David Elfin contributed to this report.

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