All offseason, Andre Carter heard questions about how the Redskins needed to improve their pass rush.
Maybe the team could draft a young defensive end, sign an established free agent, or wait for a veteran to be released after preseason cuts.
Coaches decided to trust the defensive linemen already on the roster.
And Carter is the top beneficiary of that trust.
The Redskins finished with a league-low 19 sacks last year, with 12.5 coming from defensive linemen.
Carter showed flashes, though, in recording four sacks in the Redskins' last five games.
In the early going of the 2007 season, Carter has shown that last year's late-season success was no fluke. He has four sacks in the Redskins' first four games this season.
"I think he has really settled in for us," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "He is a leader, too. He has been so consistent and he is in such great shape."
Carter may have had his best game as a Redskin last Sunday in the 34-3 win over the Detroit Lions. He finished with a team-high eight tackles and two sacks--including a safety--as he harassed Jon Kitna, the league's top-rated passer entering the game.
He helped lead a Redskins defense that limited the Lions to only 144 total yards.
In describing the safety, a key play in the third quarter that gave the Redskins a 16-3 lead, Carter said: "It was just all a reaction. I thought I had the inside move against the tackle. It wasn't there. I came up, came underneath, realized I was getting pinned and came back, pumped around and got the safety."
Added Gibbs: "What happens in football games is that you have emotional swings at different times. Certainly I think that was one."
Since joining the Redskins from San Francisco in March 2006, Carter has made the transition from linebacker to defensive end. He spends hours studying film with his fellow linemen, a close-knit group that includes Phillip Daniels, Cornelius Griffin, Demetric Evans and others.
"We took time out, all of the defensive linemen," Carter said. "We've been very consistent, as far as film study with the coach and without the coach. We're just taking the initiative to make a statement this year. It's paid off."
So far this season, Carter has recorded 21 tackles to go along with his four sacks.
Carter's not ready to rest on his statistics, though.
"I'm never content as far as my performance," he said. "I'm always just hungry. It's fun because we all challenge each other and push each other. I think each week is kind of like a journey or adventure to see kind of what's going to happen.
"For me, I just line up and play 100 miles per hour. I'm just going to work as hard as I can for as long as I can, and then bow out when the sun sets."