Reporting Grant Paulsen
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The Washington Redskins spent Friday trimming their roster down with one last batch of cuts.
A lengthy evaluation that spanned the offseason, training camp and four preseason games concluded with 22 players being subtracted from the team’s active roster over the past 24 hours.
NFL rosters are usually comprised of 53 players, but the Redskins currently only have 52 players under contract. The team is expected to add a free agent in the waiver process in the coming day.
The biggest surprise of the day was an announcement by the NFL that Redskins safety Tanard Jackson violated the league’s substance abuse policy for a third time.
The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer has served suspensions of four and sixteen games previously. Jackson will be suspended for a calendar year — effective immediately — and he could ultimately face banishment from the league for a third violation. The 27 year-old signed a one-year contract with the Redskins (with no guaranteed money attached) this offseason.
Washington’s most notable cut came in the form of fifth-year tailback Tim Hightower.
The team’s opening day starter in 2011, Hightower spent the past nine months rehabbing vigorously after having major knee surgery to repair a torn ACL last fall. The 25-year-old former Arizona Cardinal played in just one preseason game – and carried the ball just five times – this summer.
Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong was the last player to find out Washington was releasing him. The Redskins were rumored to have been formulating a trade with the Miami Dolphins that may have involved Armstrong and running back Steve Slaton, but it never came to fruition.
Armstrong tweeted that his time in D.C. had come to an end around 7:40 p.m.
Inside linebacker Bryan Kehl’s stellar preseason wasn’t enough to earn a roster spot. Washington tried to find a trade partner for the services of the former New York Giant and St. Louis Ram, but ultimately opted to waive the Brigham Young product.
Former seventh-round pick Terrence Austin’s two-year run in Washington came to an end on Friday as well. Austin played in 18 games over the past couple of seasons, and spent the majority of training camp serving exclusively as Santana Moss’ backup in the slot.
Among the bubble players who made the cut for the Redskins were diminutive return man Brandon Banks, speedy wide receiver Aldrick Robinson, and plus-sized pass catcher Dez Briscoe. Both Banks and Robinson will be featured prominently on special teams, while Briscoe could get early-season red zone targets.
Banks may have forced his way onto Washington’s roster with a dynamic performance against the Bucs on Wednesday night at FedEx Field. The 5-foot-7 specialist starred on punt returns all night while also making a 47-yard catch and taking an end around 43-yards.
Robinson caught six passes for over 100 yards in Washington’s second preseason game against the Chicago Bears. He was targeted one time in the two games since, but apparently did enough for the Redskins to feel like he can help them this season. Either that or the team just didn’t want to risk losing the 2011 draft pick to another team on a waiver claim.
Briscoe led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in touchdown receptions a year ago (six), at just 22 years-old. The Redskins claimed him off of waivers during training camp and then watched him catch a touchdown in consecutive preseason games at Chicago and against Indianapolis.
His size — 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds -– and route running ability ultimately won Washington’s coaching staff over. He was the only guy in a jam-packed receiving competition who was different, with several of the wideouts he was competing against serving as smaller, quicker options.
Seventh-round pick Jordan Bernstine, who likely benefited from Jackson’s season-long suspension, may have been the biggest surprise addition to the 52-man roster. The Iowa product did perform admirably in the box against the run this preseason, however. He also intercepted a pass on Wednesday night at FedEx Field.
Fellow seventh-rounder Richard Crawford made the folks at Southern Methodist proud by overcoming the odds to make Washington’s roster. The undersized cornerback picked off a pair of preseason passes and regularly flashed in Washington’s secondary while earning the right to become the team’s fourth cornerback.
As of now it looks like the Redskins will enter the season with just four cornerbacks. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson will start on the outside, with Cedric Griffin being the team’s third option and Crawford filling out the position.
Not surprisingly, the Redskins kept three quarterbacks (rookie starter Robert Griffin III, veteran backup Rex Grossman, and fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins).
Running back Alfred Morris’ meteoric preseason rise netted him a roster spot along with Roy Helu, Evan Royster and fullback Darrel Young in Washington’s backfield.
Here’s a full list of the Redskins’ roster cuts:
CB Travon Bellamy
NT Marlon Favorite
ILB D.J. Holt
NT Delvin Johnson
CB David Jones
ILB Bryan Kehl
OLB Brian McNally
DE Darrion Scott
CB Brandyn Thompson
LB Markus White
DE Doug Worthington
WR Anthony Armstrong
WR Terrence Austin
FB Dorson Boyce (injured)
OT Tom Compton
C Erik Cook
QB Jonathan Crompton
RB Tristan Davis (injured)
G Grant Garner
RB Tim Hightower
TE Richard Quinn
OT Willie Smith
The Redskins also announced DE Kentwan Balmer was placed on the Reserve/Left Squad list.