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In Archuleta, Another Playmaker At Safety




Adam Archuleta wasn't on the field for St. Louis last season on Week 13 when the Redskins came to town. Two weeks before, in a 38-28 loss to Arizona, the Rams' hard-hitting safety had suffered a concussion. He was inactive for the Redskins' 24-9 win in the Edward Jones Dome.

But over the past two seasons, Archuleta says, he has watched a great deal of the Redskins' defense in action. That's because St. Louis and Washington had a fair amount of common opponents in 2004 and 2005.

Asked Tuesday afternoon about his take on the Redskins' defense under assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, Archuleta said: "I've always been jealous of those guys. I've seen a lot of the tape. They do a great job. They're always in position. They're sound fundamentally, and they hit people."

Archuleta, who signed with the Redskins back on March 14, is still learning the ropes around Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va., and the Washington, D.C., area in general.

On Tuesday afternoon, for instance, he was at the team's football facility and going through the process of working out, meeting new teammates and trying to begin to pick up the defensive principles of new position coach Steve Jackson.

"Yes, today was something of a whirlwind," Archuleta said early Tuesday afternoon.

Of course, by the time the Redskins host Minnesota on Sept. 11, they plan to have Archuleta as another whirlwind force for their defense.

One of the reasons Archuleta came to the Redskins, he says, is for the chance to play opposite Sean Taylor at safety. That development is on hold for the moment, though, owing to Taylor's legal situation in South Florida.

Says Archuleta: "In St. Louis, as everybody knows, we weren't known for our defense. I had an opportunity to come to the Redskins as a free agent and all of a sudden I get the chance to become part of a defense that has everything it takes to be really successful.

"Normally, when you go through the free agent process, you're joining a team that needs a lot of help. That's not the case with me. This team is loaded. It has what it takes. I'm just excited about learning more about this team."

The 6-0, 223-pound Archuleta, an Arizona State product, was a first-round pick (20th overall) of the Rams in 2001. Over five seasons, he started 69 games for St. Louis and produced more sacks (15) than interceptions (two).

One of the things the Redskins like about Archuleta, who is a native of Rock Springs, Wyo., but went to high school in Chandler, Ariz., is that he's big-game tested.

He's played in six postseason games, including Super Bowl XXXVI, where, as a rookie, he led the St. Louis secondary with seven tackles. New England won that Super Bowl 20-17 on Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal as time expired.

One of the key New England players that day was David Patten, now one of Archuleta's new teammates in Washington. Patten came up with an eight-yard TD catch from Tom Brady.

In terms of his big-play capabilities, Archuleta once scooped up a fumble and took it back 93 yards for a score. That sequence took place two years ago in a 28-14 win over Tampa Bay. He scored from 45 yards out on a fumble return versus Baltimore in 2003.

Having two playmakers at the safety slot is a rarity and a luxury. Taylor, of course, went the distance with fumble returns versus Philly in the season finale and Tampa Bay in the playoffs last season.

Says Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs: "Everyone you talk to in the league would probably say Adam's one of the best trained athletes around.

"I kept kidding with him, telling him that the best thing that happened to us when we went to play the Rams last year was that he didn't play. With Adam, you have someone who is extremely versatile and somebody who knows what football is all about. He's extremely serious about football."

As he gets acclimated to his new team, Archuleta finds himself answering questions about his legendary workout routines and about the fact that he's made it in the NFL after having been a walk-on at Arizona State.

On those points, Adam Archuleta, one of the Redskins' key off-season acquisitions, has said: "I just try to go to bed every night with the attitude that nobody put in more time or worked as hard as me that day."

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