By Tarik El-Bashir
Friday was Dezmon Briscoe’s 23 birthday. It was also cutdown day around the NFL, and the Redskins wide receiver wasn’t certain he had done enough in the preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
“Everybody kept asking me what I wanted” for a present, Briscoe said. “I really didn’t want anything. I told them, ‘Just pray for me.’ The only thing I really wanted for my birthday was to make the team.”
On Friday morning, his cell phone rang. It was Paul Kelly, the team’s director of football operations.
“He said, ‘Coach wants to see you,’” Briscoe said. “I was like, ‘Um…’ Then he was like, ‘Calm down. It’s not one of them calls.’ It was a good feeling.”
Briscoe said his talk with Shanahan was more of the personal one. But Shanahan was also very clear when the conversation turned to on-field expectations, he added.
“He just wanted to get to know me,” said Briscoe, who was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on July 28 after the Buccaneers released him for reportedly failing a conditioning test. “He didn’t really know me as a person. He just wanted us to get to know each other a little better.”
Shanahan “also said he wants me to come in and keep doing what I’m doing,” he continued. “Keep making plays, catch every ball that comes my way, contribute anyway I can, whether it’s scout team or getting reps on offense.”
Added Shanahan: “I felt very good about my conversation with him.”
Still, Briscoe didn’t allow himself to relax until the 9 p.m. deadline for submitting rosters had passed. At 7:30, Briscoe tweeted, “I hour 30 minutes …”
A second call from Kelly never came. The team released Anthony Amrstrong instead to create a spot for him.
“No call is a good call,” said Briscoe, who tweeted “HTTR” just after the deadline. “I just basically showed up [Saturday] and had a locker.”
It was the end of a stressful week for Briscoe, who sounded downtrodden after the Redskins’ preseason finale against the Buccaneers. He had expected to see ample playing time but didn’t enter the game until the second half and was hardly used, leading him to believe he wasn’t in the teams’ plans.
“I was on the edge because I didn’t play special teams,” he explained.
As it turned out, the 6 foot 2, 210 pound third year professional out of Kansas had already shown Shanahan enough. In three preseason games, Briscoe had hauled in six passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
“Briscoe is a little bit bigger guy,” Shanahan said. “A very physical receiver, whereas Anthony is more of that X guy where he’s got that great speed, very similar to [Pierre[ Garçon, [Aldrick] Robinson and even [Brandon] Banks. So we thought we were a little deeper at that X position than we were at that Z position, so that’s why we went in that direction.”
So after an anxious birthday, Briscoe got the present he wanted. But he said Monday that he also knows this is not the time to celebrate, not for a player listed on the third string behind Garçon, Morgan, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss.
“Just don’t slack off,” Briscoe said. “Everything can easily get taken away. Don’t take it for granted. Just go out there and contribute any way that I can.”