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Redskins' Roster Hopefuls Make Their Bid

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It was a nervous night for a dozen Redskins rookies and roster hopefuls.

With the completion of Saturday's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, the Redskins must reduce the roster from 80 to 75 by Tuesday.

Unfortunately, veterans and rookies alike failed to make a good impression in the Redskins' 47-3 drubbing at the hands of the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.

Billy McMullen had another solid game, catching six passes for 55 yards, as he competes for the Redskins' sixth wide receiver spot.

Lorenzo Alexander may have secured his standing with a sack that was aided by Erasmus James, who is also competing for a roster spot.

Call it decision time, part one.

Of course, this round of cuts should be relatively easy. The second round of cuts, on Aug. 30, should be more difficult because the roster must be reduced from 75 to 53.

Through training camp and preseason, Jim Zorn has tried to meet individually with roster hopefuls, offering a word of encouragement.

"It is getting down to the time where we are going to make some decisions," Zorn said last week. "None of the young players have the opportunity to take a breath and relax. They actually have to have much more awareness because time is falling short for them to perform.

"Special teams is a great way for young guys who are maybe not going to be the starters on offense or defense but have a chance to be a key special teams player.

"This is their time."

Offensive lineman Justin Geisinger was slowed by a knee injury last week, but he made sure he would be available to play on Saturday night.

Geisinger has been battling for a backup job at guard and center. He is one player who could be on the bubble in the second round of roster cuts.

"There are only so many opportunities for guys to show they belong," Geisinger said. "I want to get out there and show what I can do."

Seventh-round draft pick Rob Jackson was expected to see significant action in the second half. He had two sacks in the Redskins' first three preseason games so far.

Jackson, who played college ball at Kansas State, hopes to earn a roster spot as a fourth or fifth defensive end. If not, he could be a practice squad candidate.

"I just have to go out there and make a name for myself," Jackson said. "Coaches have told me not to worry about making mistakes--just do what you're capable of doing. I think that's what I do."

One player Jackson is competing with at defensive end is Chris Wilson, the second-year player who emerged as a third-down speed rusher last season.

With Jason Taylor joining Andre Carter as speed rushers, Wilson's role at that spot could be minimized.

Taylor's knee injury on Saturday may have helped Wilson in that regard.

Even so, Wilson has to emerge on special teams to secure a roster spot this year, defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

"Chris has not had a good camp," Blache said. "He's going to be challenged. We have added more speed at defensive end and we have added more pass rush. He needs to become a more consistent player.

"He has to be a contributor on special teams. He has to give us big speed on special teams.

"These are going to be some tough cuts the next two weeks. We do have some depth at defensive end. It will be interesting to see who ends up coming out and who ends up going home.

"Unfortunately, someone has to go home."

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