Ex-Steeler Parker odd man out in crowded Redskins backfield

WASHINGTON -- Willie Parker became the odd man out in the Redskins' three-way veteran running back competition Saturday when he was released as the team set its 53-man roster one week before the start of the regular season.

Parker was among 21 players cut before the 6 p.m. ET deadline. The Redskins also made a trade, sending backup cornerback Justin Tryon to the Indianapolis Colts for an undisclosed draft pick.

One of the highlights of the Redskins' preseason was supposed to be an intriguing battle between former Pro Bowl running backs Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Parker -- all trying to prove they aren't past their prime.

It turned into a rout. Portis, who turned 29 on Wednesday, showed up at training camp in better shape and more focused than in years past. He never came close to losing his grip on the starting job, leaving Johnson and Parker to fight for the No. 2 spot.

Johnson, 30, and Parker, 29, had similar stats during the preseason and similar liabilities -- neither is great in pass protection, and neither plays special teams -- but Parker never showed the burst that earned him the name "Fast Willie" when he was in his prime with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2005 to 2007.

Johnson did make the cut, joining rookie Keiland Williams and fullback Mike Sellers in Washington's backfield.

Coach Mike Shanahan's first Redskins roster also includes three quarterbacks, a departure from the usual two he preferred to keep when he was coaching the Denver Broncos. Donovan McNabb's history with injuries -- which includes a sprained ankle that has kept him out of practice for two weeks -- no doubt played a part in the coach's decision to keep both second-stringer Rex Grossman and third-stringer John Beck, who recently signed a two-year contract extension.

Only two of six draft picks made the roster. First-round selection Trent Williams will be the opening-day starter at left tackle, and fourth-rounder Perry Riley earned a spot at linebacker. Sixth-round pick Dennis Morris was traded to the St. Louis Rams last week, but he wasn't going to make the team anyway. Seventh-rounders Terrence Austin, Erik Cook and Selvish Capers were all cut, although they could be signed to the practice squad Sunday.

Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, whose resume includes stops at the Intense Football League and the Arena Football League, finally made his first regular-season roster at age 27. Armstrong had such a good camp that he was rested for the final preseason game and appears set as the No. 3 receiver behind 31-year-old Santana Moss and 38-year-old Joey Galloway. Armstrong certainly has moved ahead of third-year pro Devin Thomas and veteran Roydell Williams, who both made the team despite inconsistent performances in camp and the preseason.

Another interesting choice at receiver is undrafted free agent Brandon Banks, a 5-foot-7 speedster who had a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown during the preseason but also displayed a disturbing knack for fumbling. Banks' inclusion speaks volumes to the Redskins' overall lack of quality depth at receiver, perhaps the weakest position on the team.

Shanahan didn't comment on the cuts or the makeup of his roster, which could see more changes over the coming days even as the team begins full-fledged preparation for the Sept. 12 season opener against the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys.

Also cut were quarterbacj Richard Bartel, safety Tyrone Carter, fullback Carey Davis, linebacker Curtis Gatewood, tackle Howard Green, linebacker Robert Henson, wide receiver Shay Hodge, linebacker Rob Jackson, tackle Clint Oldenburg, offensive lineman Chad Rinehart, cornerback Ramzee Robinson, tackle William Robinson, safety Anderson Russell, defensive end Darrion Scott, running back Ryan Torain, tight end Lee Vickers and wide receiver Bobby Wade.

Henson and Oldenburg were waived-injured. Both suffered knee injuries during the Redskins' preseason finale Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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