Final catch is goal for Redskins' Farris

Wide receiver knows nothing's guaranteed when rosters are cut

Pro Football

August 31, 2006|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

ASHBURN, Va. -- When Jimmy Farris walks into FedEx Field for tonight's preseason finale against the Ravens, he will be thinking about only one thing: making the Washington Redskins' 53-player roster, which he failed to do last summer.

"I'll never forget last season before the Baltimore game, I was talking to [James] Thrash in warm-ups, and I said to him, `You know this is the biggest game of my life,'" Farris said earlier this week. "I think I approach them like that. Every game is the biggest game of my career. If I have a bad performance, it could potentially be my last one."

Farris, a 28-year old wide receiver, learned the hard way that even a good performance doesn't guarantee a place in professional football. A day after catching two touchdown passes and helping the Redskins beat the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, Farris was driving back to his home in Atlanta.

He had been cut again, the fourth time by the fourth NFL team since coming out of Montana in 2001.

"That's the funny thing: Coaches say, `We're really looking for guys, whoever can get a lot of playing time and really make it happen in this last game,' ... and I was home the next day," Farris said. "You never know, sometimes they have their minds made up and sometimes they don't."

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs has used the preseason to assess some of his marginal players, but that is certainly more the case tonight.

"We've got some guys in the running here, and they're going to play a lot," Gibbs said.

Farris, whose nine preseason receptions lead the Redskins, is among about a dozen players on the bubble going into tonight's game. While he might have an advantage after being re-signed by the Redskins in the middle of last season - he caught one pass and, more importantly, forced a fumble in the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks - he isn't taking anything for granted.

"I was talking with James about that today. We both learned when we were rookies not to count [on a roster spot], you never know," Farris said. "There are so many different scenarios that can play out with injuries. ... Until you get that phone call on cutdown day - or don't get it - that's the only time you can ever be sure."

For those in the same situation as Farris, catching Gibbs' eye tonight might not be as important as impressing special teams coach Danny Smith. Many of the few unsecured spots go to players who are willing to work their way up from special teams, though some make the team simply to give depth at positions where there might be injuries.

"We're looking for people who can help us there [on special teams]," Gibbs said. "It really is a way to start on a football team. If we go to the last meeting - and I've told the players this and Danny puts the list on the board for special teams, and he says that these guys are the critical core group, you're on the team."

On Tuesday, the Redskins brought in another safety, Vernon Fox, who made his mark on special teams in Detroit. Reed Doughty, a rookie safety from Northern Colorado, wasn't surprised to see more competition come into Redskins Park.

"It's the NFL, they've got people coming in all the time," said Doughty, 23.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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