The key to the 3-4 defense is the ability of the nose tackle to be a disruptive force at the point of attack and allow linebackers to make tackles.
Anthony Bryant – nicknamed "Bear" by some of his teammates – hopes to be that disruptive force for the Redskins.
With Ma'ake Kemoeatu sidelined due to a shoulder injury late last season, Bryant emerged as the starter at nose tackle.
By all accounts, Bryant made a strong impression.
"He read things well," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "He held his gap and he pushed the pocket. He didn't give ground on the run. I bet the linebackers appreciated that."
Bryant earned a Redskins roster spot as a backup to Kemoeatu coming out of preseason last year. A concussion suffered in practice prior to Week 3 kept him off the field until the first week of December, though.
In a Week 13 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bryant started to see significant action. He took advantage of his opportunity.
Overall, Bryant appeared in six games in 2010 and started the last three. He finished the season with numbers typical of a run-stuffing nose tackle: 18 total tackles and two quarterback hurries.
Redskins defensive end Vonnie Holiday played with Bryant in 2007 when they were both in Miami.
Holliday expects Bryant to continue to develop with the Redskins.
Early in the season, before the concussion, Holliday said he would stay after Bryant because he felt like he wasn't "tapping in to his full potential."
"I know that he is a big enough man and a powerful man and he just has to set his jaw and take that workmanlike approach to things," Holliday said. "Now that he has had that opportunity, it seems to me he is really stepping up and playing real big. He is excited about playing.
"He is not getting moved in that middle and allowing that wall to be built so running backs don't have a place to go. They have to bounce back outside. His understanding of how he fits in the scheme – you can see him grow."
Bryant was selected in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft (178th overall) by the Buccaneers. Since then, he has bounced around to six other teams, seeing playing time in Detroit and Miami before coming to Washington last year.
For his career, Bryant has appeared in 13 games, with six starts, and totaled 29 tackles.