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BALT. SUN: 'Skins cut Wuerffel, Hamdan, keep 2 QBs


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By Edward Lee

Sun Staff

Originally published August 31, 2003


ASHBURN, Va. - Steve Spurrier's affinity for quarterbacks took a strange turn.

Danny Wuerffel, a longtime favorite of Spurrier's since their days at the University of Florida, and Gibran Hamdan, the Washington Redskins' seventh-round draft choice last April, were released by the team yesterday as it trimmed its roster to reach the 53-player limit by today.

Wuerffel and Hamdan were two of 10 players waived by the Redskins, but Hamdan's name was left off a list circulated by the team's media relations department. Although Washington plans to sign Hamdan to the five-player practice squad tomorrow, the cuts left the team with just two quarterbacks - starter Patrick Ramsey and backup Rob Johnson.

Another player left off the list who was released was running back Kenny Watson, who was the odd man out in a crowded race at that position.

Players mentioned on the list of cuts were defensive backs Larry Austin, Fred Booker and Jordan Younger, defensive ends Andre Arnold, Jonathan Brown and Mike Cecere, running back Robert Gillespie and offensive tackle Akil Smith.

The Redskins placed linebacker Chris Clemons (sprained shoulder) on injured reserve and will announce more waivers today.

Spurrier, who disclosed the moves after morning practice yesterday, hinted that there was no consensus on the decision to cut Wuerffel.

"Anytime there's a disagreement around here between coaches and the personnel staff, the owner [Daniel Snyder] makes the final call," Spurrier said. "That's the way it is set up. So all decisions are team decisions. We all support it, and that's where we are right now. I'm not getting into any individual or this, that and the other."

Wuerffel, who returned to Redskins Park to retrieve his belongings, said he had mixed feelings about his release.

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed not to be a part of this team," said Wuerffel, who went unsigned after playing for Washington last season but returned earlier this month when Johnson struggled to learn Spurrier's Fun 'N' Gun offense.

"I'm frustrated. I felt like I was coming in to have an opportunity to compete for a spot, and I felt like I competed enough to be a part of the team. So that's frustrating. At the same time, I'm very thankful for what the Lord has done in my life and will continue to be."

Wuerffel's release was the most shocking development yesterday as the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner seemed to redeem a lackluster preseason with his performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.

Despite being sacked four times in that contest, Wuerffel completed 13 of 19 passes for 147 yards and one of the team's two passing touchdowns and earned a quarterback rating of 108.9. In fact, he finished the preseason with a rating of 84.2 - the best among all Washington quarterbacks.

Hamdan threw just seven passes - three were caught - for 29 yards, but was touted by Spurrier in April as a young, strong-armed quarterback who would surprise observers.

For now, Johnson, a backup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, assumes the No. 2 and No. 3 quarterback roles for the Redskins.

"It's a numbers game," said Johnson, who connected on 21 of 42 passes for 251 yards. "I don't make those decisions. You just come to work and work hard and don't worry about all that other stuff."

That Watson was cut also was a surprise as the running back returned after a 534-yard, four-start season last year and was considered to be a contender for the starting role this fall.

But a nagging knee injury and the emergence of undrafted rookie free agent Sultan McCullough made Watson expendable. McCullough, who rushed for a team-high 102 yards on 24 carries in the preseason, is expected to see a little time behind starter Trung Canidate, Chad Morton and Ladell Betts.

"He struggled a little bit in the last game, but he's had some flashes of speed and really some good plays in the preseason," Spurrier said of McCullough. "It was a team, organization decision to keep him."

NOTES: Spurrier said tight end Zeron Flemister has regained the starting role from Robert Royal. Flemister started in the first two preseason games, but gave way to Royal for the third contest, a 24-3 win over the Ravens. ... Spurrier also said that center Larry Moore's torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee has healed well enough to allow the seventh-year pro to start against the New York Jets in the regular-season opener on Thursday night.

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