Walton is the first loser as Redskins play the roster game


Strong safety Alvin Walton, who played the past six seasons with the Washington Redskins, lost the numbers game last night.

Walton, who started for four seasons before spraining his shoulder in the second game against the Dallas Cowboys last year, will be put on waivers today when the Redskins make 13 roster moves to cut the roster from 60 to 47 players.

The coaches started working on the roster moves yesterday after the team was routed by the Minnesota Vikings, 30-0, Saturday night in the final preseason game for both clubs.

Walton wasn't surprised when coach Joe Gibbs called him with the news last night because he asked to be traded when he was put on the inactive list for the Super Bowl last January.

The Redskins also decided to cut two young cornerbacks, Johnny Thomas and Sydney Johnson, but Thomas is likely to be brought back tomorrow if he clears waivers.

After Walton recovered from his shoulder injury last year, the Redskins decided to stick with Danny Copeland as their starter, making Walton expendable.

The Redskins said they couldn't find any takers for Walton, 28, although the safety hopes to catch on with another team.

One team he's interested in is the Atlanta Falcons. His hard-hitting style of play could catch the eye of coach Jerry Glanville, although he may have to take a cut in his $675,000 salary.

Walton and Johnson, who played the past two years with the team, are the fifth and sixth veterans from last year's Super Bowl team to depart this year. Thomas is a former Redskin, but didn't play with them last year.

Guard Russ Grimm, who retired to become an assistant coach, linebacker Matt Millen, who retired to become a TV analyst, quarterback Stan Humphries, who was traded to the San Diego Chargers, and running back Gerald Riggs, who was waived 10 days ago, were the first four Super Bowl veterans to leave.

The Redskins coaches worked late into the night to make their roster moves. Linebacker Tony Barker, running back Robert Green, offensive lineman Thomas Rayam, long snapper Mike Raab, tight ends James Jenkins and Gary Wilkins, linebacker John Brantley and defensive lineman Keith Willis are among the players who are in trouble.

This should be called the semi-final cut because the Redskins don't necessarily want to get rid of the 13 players who'll be involved in today's roster moves.

Although Walton won't be invited back, the Redskins hope that several of the 13 players will clear waivers so they can either be re-signed for the practice squad or put on the injured reserve list.

One reason the decisions can be so difficult is that players put on the IR list before the final cut can't play or practice all year.

That means a player such as Eric Williams, who is out for 10 weeks with a knee injury, will make the 47 and then can be put on the IR list tomorrow and be replaced by a player who clears waivers.

To give themselves flexibility, the Redskins announced after Saturday night's game that 11 players were injured in the game.

Once the Redskins get their roster set, they'll have to analyze what went wrong in their 1-4 exhibition season. It could be argued that it was business as usual because they went 1-3 last year.

Gibbs, though, doesn't look at it that way. He said their lackluster showing against the Vikings was much worse than the way they played in the preseason last year.

"It's got me very concerned," Gibbs said. "That's about as lopsided as anything I've seen here at RFK."

Jim Lachey, playing his first game, was beaten twice by Chris Doleman. The result was that Doleman twice knocked the ball out of quarterback Mark Rypien's hands.

Rypien also was intercepted three times.

It didn't help that the Redskins already started working for the Dallas game last week and didn't put in much of a game plan for the Vikings.

"Granted, we didn't have much in, but execution should take over that," Rypien said.

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