Several weeks ago, it appeared rookie Kedric Golston's chances of making the Redskins' 53-man roster this year were a long shot.
The defensive tackle out of the University of Georgia wasn't drafted until the sixth round. The Redskins had already drafted a defensive tackle, Anthony Montgomery from the University of Minnesota, in the fifth round.
Smart money said there would only be one opening, at most, on the roster at defensive tackle as the Redskins had veterans returning at the position with NFL playoff experience.
"I didn't worry about that," says Golston. "My main focus was just to learn about the NFL game and this defense, and play solid football."
Despite the odds, there was Golston, not only on the roster, but making plays in his first NFL game on Sept. 11 against Minnesota.
Golston was credited with three tackles, including throwing Mewelde Moore for a key three-yard loss that helped stall a Viking drive towards the end of the third quarter when the score was tied 16-16.
"For his first game, on a big Monday Night stage, Kedric played pretty well," said Redskins defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Greg Blache. "He went out there and held up his end of the bargain. Now the question becomes: Can he continue to progress? We had some apprehensions about putting him out there in such a big game, but Kedric put those fears to rest."
Despite being a Parade All-American and ESPN.com's top defensive tackle prospect in the country coming out of Sandy Creek High School in the Atlanta suburbs, Golston struggled in making the transition from high school to college ball.
Most of that involved the fact that in September of 2001 Golston was thrown from a car in a terrible accident.
Golston spent two weeks in intensive care with internal injuries and post-surgery complications on a broken right femur. The Bulldogs told Golston that he would have a place at their school even if he never played a down.
That turned out to be a smart move as Golston made an amazing recovery and in less than a year after the accident, he was the starting nose tackle for the Bulldogs as a freshman despite playing with a rod and pins inserted in his right leg.
"Just me being here right now after what I went through is a blessing," said Golston. "Playing in that Monday Night game against Minnesota gave me a lot of confidence. It was Monday Night Football, a lot of energy, and my family was at the game. What more can you ask?"
For those who can recall the comments of assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams in the offseason, the move to keep both rookies might not have been surprising.
Said Williams back in the summer: "They're athletic and stout. They will make a push to make this team. The battle at backup defensive tackle is one that needs to be watched."
Williams added: "Golston has a lot of sheer power. Montgomery has great hand placement and might have a little more pass run in him. But that's in shorts. You don't know until you see them go in live competition with pads on."
The 6-foot-4, 292-pound Golston, who had been hoping to be drafted as high as the third round, has made all the right moves since his selection.
For one thing, he and young wide receiver Mike Espy are usually among the first players on the practice field at Redskins Park. And Golston even displayed a fiery attitude when he was involved with one of the first scuffles of training camp, that one with veteran offensive tackle Jon Jansen.
Golston made an impression late in the preseason, registering an 11-yard sack on Baltimore Raven quarterback Kyle Boller in the Aug. 31 game won by Baltimore 17-10.
From the start, Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs felt that Golston was a good fit for the organization, saying: "He started 30 out of 44 games at the University of Georgia. He has a very good history of playmaking and we felt like he can fit in very well with us here."
Even though Golston ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any defensive tackle at the NFL Combine with a 4.88 and put up solid numbers by benching 225 pounds 33 times and showing off a 34-inch vertical leap, he was not selected higher, mostly because of his injury history and because he had registered just 3.5 sacks in his four years at Georgia to go along with 95 tackles, 43 of which were solo.
"I know my stats weren't the best, but I think my film is good and I played on some good defenses," Golston told the media prior to draft day.
His coaches at Georgia take the position that it would have been great to see Golston play without the injuries he sustained in the car accident. They say people don't realize how serious that wreck was and that the player almost lost his life.
Golston was surprising in his first NFL game on Monday Night versus the Vikings, but how far he's progressed on the comeback trail from a terrible car accident and a shoulder injury sustained as a Georgia sophomore is even more surprising.
Golston followed up the Vikings with another solid showing against the Cowboys. He had two tackles in Washington's 27-10 setback.
Says Golston: "I know this is an intense rivalry, but after all the emotion dies down it's just a matter of playing solid football."
That's what Golston has been able to do after two weeks of the 2006 campaign. He's been one of pleasant surprises for the 0-2 Redskins.