ASHBURN -- The bulk of the cuts surprised no one, probably not even the players themselves. But the Redskins still managed to have an eventful day during their final cuts Friday. They released their starting back from last season, had a safety suspended for drugs and retained a popular kick returner thought to be in jeopardy.
The Redskins also signed cornerback Crezdon Butler to the 53-man roster. They had entered Saturday with only 52 players (and four cornerbacks). Here are four moves that stood out this weekend:
Tim Hightower » The running back tore his left ACL and required surgery in November. Early in camp Shanahan said he was nowhere near 100 percent. And Hightower was able to play in only one preseason game. He didn't suffer a setback, but he also didn't appear ready for a full load. With tight decisions elsewhere, the Redskins were forced to go with three running backs.
Shanahan said Hightower might return later in the season, perhaps when he's closer to 100 percent.
"It was a tough decision," Shan?ahan said. "He could come back here. I thought when he did play he played well."
Shanahan did not say who would start at running back among Evan Royster, Roy Helu and Alfred Morris. The one area they must produce like Hightower did is in pass protection. Morris is unproven in the NFL in this area; Shanahan said the other two made a "tremendous amount" of progression in this area.
Brandon Banks » The 5-foot-7 Banks was on the so-called bubble but provided a reminder of his playmaking ability in the final preseason game. He finished with 156 all-purpose yards on seven touches vs. Tampa Bay. Shanahan pointed to his 43-yard end around on which he got outside and past the corner.
"Not many people can make a corner miss like that and get a 40-something yard gain," Shanahan said. "And if you have to put him in the backfield, you can run him as a tailback because he has such great quickness. He's a playmaker, and he's proved that since he's been here. We're going to find ways to get him the football."
Tanard Jackson »
The NFL suspended him indefinitely for another failed drug test; he already has missed 19 games in his career because of drugs. Shanahan said they learned of his suspension Friday, but they knew of the issue beforehand. Jackson missed practice Monday because of this situation. One NFL source said the Redskins had known about this possibility for a while.
He can apply for reinstatement Aug. 31, 2013.
"I really do like him, but I'm just disappointed for the guy," Shanahan said. "He's a good player, a great guy. He's made a couple of mistakes."
Rookie safety Jordan Bernstine, a seventh-rounder, made the team in place of Jackson.
Receiver » The Redskins kept seven receivers, opting for Dezmon Briscoe over Anthony Armstrong, who was picked up by Miami on Saturday. One reason, Shanahan said, is because Briscoe can play the Z position; Armstrong plays the X. The Redskins already had Pierre Garcon, Aldrick Robinson and Banks who can play X, which often calls for deeper routes. Shanahan also said Armstrong's special teams value was diminished because had he made the roster, he would not have been active for many games.