Barry Cofield is ready to "lay it on the line" for his teammates as they prepare for the final seven games of the season.
This past week, the Washington Redskins activated Cofield from the reserved/injured (IR) designated for return list after the ninth-year nose tackle suffered a high ankle sprain in the Redskins' season opener against the Houston Texans.
After working with the trainers to recover from an ankle and lingering groin injury through the first ten weeks of the season, Cofield said Wednesday he is ready for his return.
"A lot of rehab – rehabbing two different injures – and it's been tough," Cofield said. "But I'm very excited to be back, very excited to be back."
Since joining the Redskins as an unrestricted free agent in 2011, Cofield hadn't missed a snap, let alone a game. Starting all 49 regular season games and one playoff game, he's become a mainstay along the Washington defensive line.
After missing significant time for the first time in his career, Cofield said he was given a chance to watch the game of football from a different point of view and further his education in the game.
"It's definitely a unique perspective," he said. "It's been very unique being able to watch from like a bird's eye view, watch the game from upstairs, and I learned a lot."
One thing that he learned is that Washington top-10 defense yardage-wise isn't a mistake. Along with observing, he's also been telling his defensive comrades that they're "close" to becoming the unit they strive to be.
"We just need to make big plays here and there, and literally one play a game can really turn the momentum and change the tide," Cofield said. "So the biggest thing I've imparted on the guys is just that we're close. We're close."
His teammates, however, believe that Cofield is just what they need to close the gap and get over the hump.
Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan thinks that Cofield's return should free up the edge rushers and allow them to get after opposing quarterbacks and make plays.
"He's been a key piece of the defense the past four years and getting him back is good for everybody," Kerrigan said. "Especially the guys – linebackers Keenan and Perry [Riley Jr.] – he does a good job keeping those guys clean."
Fellow defensive lineman Kedric Golston feels that adding Cofield to the mix will only make the defense stronger and give the offense just one more weapon they need to consider before the snap.
"He's a guy that's extremely active in there," Golston said. "So to get him back is going to take some of the pressure off the whole defensive line, outside linebackers, because somebody has to account for him just you have to account for the rest of our rushers."
In Cofield's absence, Chris Baker stepped in at nose tackle while Jarvis Jenkins filled in at defensive end. While Cofield recovered from his injuries, Baker collected 23 tackles over nine games.
After seeing how well the other players stepped up, head coach Jay Gruden wants to utilize the depth Washington has along the defensive line by creating a rotation that will keep guys fresh throughout the game.
"It's a good, strong rotation," he said. "Big, physical guys up front, which you want and you want a lot of them and we now have a lot of them. He'll just be in a rotation with Chris, Jarvis and all those guys up front."
Working in the trenches for the past three seasons in Washington, Cofield has been a menace. Recording 94 tackles (48 solo) with eight sacks and 15 passes defensed, he's a player with a motor that just won't stop.
Returning just as the Redskins prepare for what they hope will be a memorable seven-game stretch to end the season, Cofield said he just wants to do his job and contribute to the success they hope to have.
"Hopefully I can come back, just a free agent off the streets and someone that's just going to come in, lay it on the line, just play as hard as possible and hopefully help us get over that hump," he said. "But it's going to take a collective effort, and after the bye week, I think we're ready."