Redskins' Spurrier won't let Gators block path to success

Gillespie is released as roster is trimmed to 53

Pro Football

September 02, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier has not been shy about assembling the best team he can field in the NFL - even if that means waiving players he coached at the University of Florida.

So it was that Spurrier, who last Sunday released former Gator and wide receiver Reidel Anthony, parted ways with running back Robert Gillespie - whom Spurrier coached at Florida - and four other rookies yesterday to reach the 53-man limit.

Tackle Reggie Coleman, linebacker Shamar Finney, defensive end Bernard Jackson and defensive back Ricot Joseph were the other rookies cut, and the club released wide receiver Justin Skaggs and kicker James Tuthill. The team also placed tight end Robert Royal and cornerback Kato Serwanga on the injured reserve list.

In addition to yesterday's moves, the club released six players Friday. They were cornerbacks Chandler Smith and Mark Washington, defensive tackle Donovan Arp, center Dustin Keith, offensive tackle Melvin Paige and tight end Ivan Mercer.

Gillespie, an undrafted rookie who rushed for 1,854 yards and 16 touchdowns in his three years for the Gators, had been battling second-year player Kenny Watson for the third tailback spot behind incumbent Stephen Davis and second-round draft pick Ladell Betts.

Although Gillespie caught 11 passes for 139 yards and carried the ball 18 times for 67 yards during the preseason, he could not bump Watson, who had 20 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown and caught seven passes for 43 yards.

After the team cut Anthony last week, Spurrier acknowledged that waiving former Gators was one of the unpleasant jobs of being the coach.

"Cut day is no fun for coaches, especially players you know well and have been around for quite a while," he said last week.

Tuthill, who was claimed off waivers by the Redskins from the Houston Texans, is somewhat of a surprise. Incumbent Brett Conway had missed the last three exhibition games to give a hip flexor injury time to heal, and Spurrier had said he was willing to go with Tuthill as his opening-day kicker if Conway was not ready to play against the Arizona Cardinals in six days.

Apparently, the coaching staff is confident that Conway will be healthy for the season opener.

Skaggs had been vying with Darnerien McCants for the sixth wide receiver spot, but Skaggs caught only three passes for 69 yards before undergoing arthroscopic surgery last Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.

McCants caught 11 passes for 194 yards and tied with fellow wide receiver Derrius Thompson for the team lead in touchdowns with four in the preseason.

Coleman became the team's second draft-pick casualty after seventh-round choice and long snapper Jeff Grau was cut Tuesday. A sixth-round pick from Tennessee, Coleman had hoped to back up offensive tackle Chris Samuels, who is nursing a tender ankle.

But Coleman, who started Thursday's 28-14 loss to the Patriots after Samuels' backup, Rod Jones, was sidelined for the season with a torn biceps tendon, allowed two sacks against New England.

Royal, a fifth-round pick, suffered a high ankle sprain in the second quarter of Thursday's game and will miss several weeks. Serwanga might not return until October after suffering a knee injury during the first week of training camp.

Joseph, Smith and Washington were stuck in a logjam behind seven other defensive backs. Arp was pushed out by the solid play of Delbert Cowsette (Maryland) and Carl Powell.

Finney, Jackson, Keith, Mercer and Paige didn't see much playing time at their respective positions.

Next for Redskins

Opponent:Arizona Cardinals in season opener for both teams

Site:FedEx Field, Landover

When:Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 5/WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line:Redskins by 7

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.