Redskins say goodbye to '03 starter Ohalete

No. 3 tackler last year is cut

giving up TD pass on Saturday sealed fate

August 18, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - The last memory many Washington Redskins fans will have of Ifeanyi Ohalete is of the safety being victimized on a 68-yard touchdown pass by the Carolina Panthers in a preseason game Saturday night.

Yesterday, the Redskins cut Ohalete, who started 15 games for them last season, made three interceptions and finished third on the team in tackles. But he had been slipping on the depth chart and was badly beaten by Carolina's Keary Colbert on a third-quarter play in the team's second preseason game.

Ohalete, in his fourth NFL season, exited Redskins Park before the team's morning practice, saying he hoped to catch on with another team.

The Redskins said they released him early in training camp to accommodate that desire.

"Let's not dwell on anything negative," said Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach for defense. "He worked hard and he will get a job. We have some young guys who are going to get the opportunity to play. Instead of getting caught in the shuffle at the end of training camp, we respect him and want him to get into a camp and get a job."

Ohalete's 15 starts last season were at free safety, but he was vying with Matt Brown for playing time this season at strong safety.

He's not the first Redskin who received significant playing time under departed coach Steve Spurrier to be released. Running back Trung Canidate, who began the season as a starter, was let go during the offseason.

Part of Ohalete's undoing was the drafting of University of Miami free safety Sean Taylor, who is being groomed as a starter. Taylor is now competing with Andre Lott, a third-year player, for the top free safety spot.

In his first two preseason games, Taylor has two interceptions and a forced fumble. "I think even the novices see that he's pretty physically gifted," Williams said of Taylor. "I'd like for him to respect the speed in this league. It's been good the last couple of practices he's gotten beat deep."

Ohalete had some highlights, too, in his Redskins career. In 2002, he returned an interception against the New Orleans Saints 78 yards for a touchdown. Later that year, he had a career-high 13 tackles against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Southern California in 2001.

NOTES: All practices for the rest of training camp have been closed to fans and the media. Media members are escorted onto the field at the end of practice to interview players. ... Tempers flashed during yesterday morning's practice, coaches said. "The guys are sore and tired, and for them to go out and compete like they did today is a good sign, even if it got a little heated," said tight ends coach Rennie Simmons.

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