ASHBURN, Va. -- Veteran receiver James Thrash was released by the Washington Redskins on Friday after failing a physical.
Thrash has been unable to practice during the offseason because of a neck injury that has him contemplating retirement. He said recently his decision could hinge on whether he would need surgery to keep playing.
"I talked with James and we agreed that this was the best way to proceed," coach Jim Zorn said in a statement. "James can focus on getting healthy and we can move forward. ... Though we had to make this decision, we are confident that James will be involved in some capacity within the Redskins organization."
Thrash is one of the best long-shot stories in NFL training camp history. The undrafted free agent from Missouri Southern was the bottom receiver on the depth chart when the Redskins opened camp in 1997, but he forced his way onto the roster by returning kickoffs for touchdowns in each of the first two preseason games.
He has since stuck around for 12 NFL seasons, including nine in two stints with the Redskins. He became a standout special teams player known for his work ethic, although attempts by various coaches to use him a top receiver never panned out. His best year as a pass-catcher came in 2001 with the Philadelphia Eagles, when he had 63 receptions for 833 yards and eight touchdowns.
Last year, Thrash began the season as the No. 3 receiver, but he finished with only nine catches for 81 yards and one touchdown. The 34-year-old would have faced stiff competition to make the team this year with the expected emergence of second-year receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and the recent signing of Roydell Williams.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press