by Brian McNally

The Redskins took a step toward finalizing their 53-man roster on Friday by waiving eight players, including cornerback Richard Crawford.

NFL rules mandate teams make their final cuts by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Washington got a jump on that process when it returned home from Tampa Bay after a 24-10 preseason win on Thursday night. But it still must cut 14 more players – or 12 if it decides to put defensive end Stephen Bowen and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, both still recovering from major knee surgeries late last year, on the physically- unable-to-perform (PUP) list to start the season.

Crawford, 24, was the biggest name cut. He was the team’s seventh round pick in the 2012 draft and as a rookie had a key 64-yard punt return in a Dec. 9, 2012 win over the Baltimore Ravens. That set up the overtime game winning kick by Kai Forbath, who himself had yet to learn his fate on Friday.

Expected to be the primary punt returner in 2013, Crawford tore ligaments (ACL, LCL) in his left knee during a preseason game and was lost for the year.

Crawford is eligible to return to the Redskins’ practice squad and in a text message to 106.7 – The Fan said he thinks that will happen if another team doesn’t claim him off waivers. He did not have a good night on special teams against the Buccaneers, however, with multiple lackluster punt returns and one that bounced in front of him and skipped down the field 25 yards.

Others suffered the same fate. Punter Robert Malone outlasted Blake Clingan, his first competitor for the position during training camp. But Washington signed former Chicago Bears’ punter Tress Way on Aug. 20 and he crushed a 59-yard punt against Tampa Bay. Malone’s sole punt went 31 yards in that contest.

The week before against Baltimore, Malone averaged 41 yards per kick in three attempts with a long of 45. Way punted twice for a 39-yard average, but had a long of 51. There is still a chance the Redskins could bring in another punter once other NFL teams make their roster decisions this weekend. Way, who struggled with inconsistency in Chicago, is no lock yet.

The other cuts were no surprise:

Ted Bolser: Tight end was drafted in the seventh round this past May out of Indiana. Never really had a shot at beating out Jordan Reid, Logan Paulsen or Niles Paul for a spot. But the Redskins believe a year on the practice squad would do Bolser good.

Tevita Stevens: Not much of a prospect despite being a second-year player. Stevens already turned 27 this summer. He was an undrafted free agent from Utah and spent all of last season on Washington’s practice squad. The interior lineman could make a return appearance on the practice squad.

Robert Thomas: A bit of a surprise if only because he’s a true nose tackle and Washington may have lost their backup nose tackle, Chris Neild, for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee during Thursday’s game. Thomas was working as the third string at that spot.

Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith: Only signed on Aug. 9 so he wasn’t with the Redskins long. He spent four years bouncing between the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad and active roster after being signed as an undrafted free agent. Cousins Antonio Cromartie (Arizona Cardinals) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (New York Giants) are NFL corners. As a safety – even with injuries to Phillip Thomas and a pending suspension for Brandon Meriweather – Cromartie-Smith was a long shot to make the roster.

Lee Doss: Surprised the undrafted free agent from Southern University outlasted fellow wide receiver Rashad Ross, who was dropped in the first wave of cuts from 90 players to 75. But Doss was still behind Nick Williams, who played in five games with the Redskins last year. And he wasn’t close to the top six receivers. The team also is waiting on what to do with Hankerson as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Doss was only targeted twice in four preseason games, making a nice 12-yard catch over the middle against Tampa Bay.

Kevin Kowalski: An interior lineman who hadn’t played in two seasons but had good size at 6-3, 298. Had experience at center, but Kory Lichtensteiger is the starter and Mike McGlynn was in competition to be the backup at that spot. In the end, Chris Chester, the right guard, will move to center if needed, according to coach Jay Gruden . Rookie Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus were ahead of him on the depth chart as reserve guards. Chester and left guard Shawn Lauvao are the starters.


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