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2015 Sam Huff Defensive Player Of The Year: Chris Baker


Patiently waiting for his opportunity to shine, defensive end Chris Baker had a breakout year, tallying career highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles.

During the Redskins' final game of the 2015 season, Chris Baker sacked Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore, quickly got himself off the ground and raised both arms up, gesturing a money sign with his fingers.

It was Baker's sixth sack of the season, a career-high, but more notable because it passed a benchmark in his contract that earned him a bonus, earning quite the celebratory response.

That helped cap the best season of the defensive end's career, and in turn, earned him the honor of being the 2015 Sam Huff Defensive Player of the Year award winner at the 2016 Washington Redskins Welcome Home Luncheon.

To continue that emotional week in January, Baker and his wife, Jamila, had their first child, Aria, together.

"It's been a rollercoaster, but it's something I always plan for," Baker said last year.  "You know, I feel like it's been a plan of God to position me throughout these years. I started out as a practice squad guy and just learning ropes. In order to be a leader you got to learn how to follow and the first few years of me playing in the league, I was following the older guys -- Barry Cofield to Steven Bowen, watch huddles, professionals carried themselves on and off the field, and I was learning every year. When God said it was my time, it was this year and I've just been able to, you know, just take advantage of every opportunity that God has given me and I've been rolling."

Baker's 2015 was filled with career highs. He totaled 53 tackles, 26 solo tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles, becoming the first Redskins player since 2011 to record more than two forced fumbles.

His first career fumble recovery helped seal the Redskins largest comeback victory against the Buccaneers in Week 7, and against the Eagles in Week 4 he recorded two sacks of quarterback Sam Bradford, his first ever multi-sack game.

Baker's NFL lifespan has been an exercise in patience and persistence. As an undrafted free agent from Hampton, Baker latched on with the Broncos in 2009, then the Dolphins a year later, before finding a role with the Redskins in 2011.

Check out the top images of Chris Baker from the 2015 season.

His opportunity to play on a consistent basis came in 2014, in which he started 12 games, and 2015 showed he could remain consistent with his health and progress as a player.

By establishing himself last year, he also developed into a leader for the defensive line, something that's even more prominent this year with the losses of veterans Terrance Knighton and Jason Hatcher.

"You've just got to go out there and work hard every day and take advantage of any opportunity you get, especially as an undrafted guy," Baker said. "Every opportunity is a great opportunity. Any time you've got a chance to go out and show what you can do, make sure you show the coaches what kind of player you are. When you get a turn, just show up and show out."

That's exactly what Baker's done.

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