Scramble begins as Redskins make first cut Grant returns as veterans face last exhibition test

August 21, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent HERNDON, Va. INB

NATE HILL, GENE FRUGE, BILLY KEYS LB: TED ROGERS, JON LEVERENZ, JACK BRADFORD, KEVIN WOOLFOLK DB: CHARLES BELL NEWCOMERS STILL ON ROSTER RB: JOHN SETTLE (PLAN B), RICKY ERVINS (D-3) TE: DENNIS RANSOM (D-6), JAMES JENKINS (FA) BOBBY WILSON (D-1) LB: MATT MILLEN (PLAN B) DB: TERRY HOAGE (PLAN B), DANNY COPELAND (PLAN B), JIMMY SPENCER (D-8). — HERNDON, Va. -- The timing was just a coincidence for Darryl Grant.

The veteran defensive lineman of the Washington Redskins returned to practice yesterday, the day the team made its first mandatory cut, to 60 players.

The Redskins delayed their most difficult decisions while putting two players on the injured reserve list and waiving 15. Only one, wide receiver Carl Harry, ever appeared in a regular-season game for Washington.

Harry and two other players, offensive lineman Thomas Rayam and linebacker Ted Rogers, could return if the owners approve a practice squad at a meeting in Dallas today.

Meanwhile, Grant arrived in time to force the Redskins to make one of their most difficult roster decisions Monday, when they cut the roster from 60 to the final limit of 47 players.

Grant, in his 11th year, is the senior veteran who's in danger of not making the club after tearing a calf muscle on the first day of training camp last month.

The Redskins still have nine defensive linemen on the roster, and Grant and third-year player Tracy Rocker face the most difficult battles.

Both could well wind up on the trading block, but Grant doesn't seem concerned about the possibility.

"I take it all in stride," Grant said. "I'm not a decision maker. I'll be happy in any situation. My goal is to play in the NFL this year. Hopefully, it'll be in Washington. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

In addition to Grant, safety Clarence Vaughn, quarterbacks Stan Humphries and Jeff Rutledge, offensive linemen Mohammed Elewonibi, Ray Brown and Mark Adickes, tight ends Jimmie Johnson and Ken Whisenhunt and wide receivers Walter Stanley and Joe Johnson are the veterans who will be fighting for roster spots in the final exhibition game Saturday night against the New York Jets.

Meanwhile, the players at two positions -- running back and linebacker -- can relax.

The Redskins cut to five running backs (Earnest Byner, Gerald Riggs, John Settle, Ricky Ervins and Brian Mitchell) and six linebackers (Wilber Marshall, Matt Millen, Andre Collins, Monte Coleman and Ravin Caldwell), and that's the limit at those two positions.

"We don't like going that low [at those two positions] right now, but we felt like we had to because we still had other areas we had to look at people," coach Joe Gibbs said.

The deepest cut was made at linebacker, where four players -- Rogers, Jon Leverenz, Jack Bradford and Kevin Woolfolk -- were waived.

Bradford, a former University of Maryland linebacker who lives in Columbia, Md., was a victim of his size at 6 feet 3 and 226 pounds, linebacker coach Larry Peccatiello said.

"Bradford has good athletic ability, but his biggest roadblock was his size," he said. "With the offensive linemen all getting at 300 pounds or better and the tight ends coming in at 250, it's really a game in which size is such a factor."

At his size, Bradford had to compete as a nickel linebacker, and Monte Coleman and Andre Collins had an edge on him in that role.

The player who may have had the most disappointing camp was linebacker Jon Leverenz, an 11th-round pick a year ago who spent last season on the injured reserve list. Leverenz, who was cut on his 24th birthday, was given a shot at the backup middle linebacker role behind Matt Millen, but Peccatiello said he lacked consistency.

The Redskins were left with nine newcomers on the 60-man roster -- four draft picks (defensive lineman Bobby Wilson, running back Ricky Ervins, tight end Dennis Ransom and cornerback Jimmy Spencer), four Plan B players (Millen, defensive backs Terry Hoage and Danny Copeland and running back John Settle) and one undrafted free agent (tight end James Jenkins).

They also put two draft picks -- wide receiver Keenan McCardell and defensive back David Gulledge -- on the injured reserve list. They're not eligible to practice this year because they were put on the list before the final 47-man roster, although they can come back next year.

Players who are on the 47-man roster next week and are then put on the injured reserve list are allowed to practice. Tight end Don Warren and cornerback A.J. Johnson are expected to be in that category.

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