Skins' cuts are far from final

August 27, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Evening Sun Staff

HERNDON, Va. -- There was nothing final about the Washington Redskins' final cuts.

Three-time Pro Bowl running back Gerald Riggs didn't make the cut to 47 players yesterday, but might be back on the team as early as today.

Reserve quarterback Stan Humphries survived yesterday's roster surgery, but might be gone by tomorrow.

That's the way it is in the NFL these days. Cutdown day no longer is the time to size up a team's potential strengths and weaknesses. It's the day after cutdown that you get a more accurate reading.

That's why the Redskins' brain trust was so terse after lopping 13 names off the roster, several of whom could be returned to the team if they clear waivers today.

"I'm not going to say much," said coach Joe Gibbs, who kept his promise during a media briefing. "A number of these guys we want to try and get back, that we like very much."

Riggs, a 30-year-old, nine-year veteran, is one of those guys. Gibbs is hoping that Riggs' $1 million salary, or his age, or his recent history of injuries, or the combination of all three factors will keep another team from claiming him.

The decision to cut Riggs was one of several calculated risks designed to protect players on the roster who probably wouldn't clear waivers.

Perhaps the biggest risk the Redskins took involved cutting wide receiver Stephen Hobbs, a second-year player who had won the fourth receiver spot behind Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders.

But when Gibbs decided to keep four quarterbacks, however temporarily, he had to roll the dice one more time and Hobbs' number came up. Risk? At least one team in the NFC Eastern Division is looking to sign a receiver today. When the Philadelphia Eagles cut Mike Bellamy, a second-round pick a year ago, coach Rich Kotite said he'd be scanning the waiver wire for prospects.

The Redskins were unable to move Humphries in a trade, creating a logjam at quarterback. Mark Rypien is the unchallenged starter and Cary Conklin won a job in the preseason. Because Humphries has fallen from grace, veteran Jeff Rutledge appears to have a spot with the team. And because Rutledge holds for placekicker Chip Lohmiller, he may even start the season as the No. 2 quarterback.

The Redskins reportedly have shopped Humphries with the Phoenix Cardinals, who lost Timm Rosenbach for the season to knee surgery, and the San Diego Chargers, whose general manager, Bobby Beathard, had drafted Humphries while in Washington.

But Redskins general manager Charley Casserly did not sound like he had a deal in the works. "I don't see any trade talks tonight or tomorrow," he said.

Asked if he could envision keeping four quarterbacks on the roster, Casserly said, "We'll make that decision [today]."

There are as many as five players among the 13 cut yesterday the Redskins would like to retain. In addition to Riggs and Hobbs, those players include H-back Ken Whisenhunt, kick returner Joe Johnson and cornerback Sidney Johnson.

The Redskins will open up at least two and as many as five roster spots today when they place players on injured reserve. Certain to go on IR are tight end Don Warren and cornerback A.J. Johnson. Casserly said there were other candidates for the IR list, but declined to name them. Two possibilities are offensive tackle Mo Elewonibi (shoulder) and linebacker Kurt Gouveia (knee).

By keeping Warren and Johnson on the 47-man roster, the Redskins can bring them back in five weeks. A player who goes on injured reserve before the final cuts must clear waivers before he can return to the team.

Players cut who don't figure to have a future in Washington include a pair of defensive linemen, 10-year veteran Darryl Grant and former Outland Trophy winner Tracy Rocker; strong safety Clarence Vaughn; guard Mark Adickes; and wide receiver Walter Stanley.

The Redskins also cut three rookies who might resurface on the five-man developmental squad. They are tight ends James Jenkins and Dennis Ransom, and cornerback Jimmy Spencer.

Whether Riggs returns is problematic. Both Casserly and Gibbs expect Riggs to play in the NFL this season, if not with the Redskins. And both of them defended the 1989 trade that brought Riggs to Washington for two first-round draft picks.

"I'm saying he's not through playing," said Gibbs, who pressured Beathard to make the trade.

"I don't think you can make an evaluation on that trade until Gerald's career is over," Casserly said. "Gerald's career is not over . . . Jim Plunkett was on waivers and won the Super Bowl afterwards. So being on waivers doesn't mean anything."

That fact of NFL life will become more evident today.

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