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In Second Season, Henson's Seeking a Comfort Level


Robert Henson is as intrigued as anyone about the Redskins' new defense.

Henson, in his second season as a Redskins linebacker, says the defense is complex but effective. It's expected to include a 3-4 base but mix in 4-3 principles as well.

"It changes things up," Henson said. "The offense never knows where the fourth rusher is coming from in the 3-4, as opposed to a 4-3 where there are only certain things you can do as far as getting guys in position to make plays.

"With this 3-4, anybody can make a play. And any play might be yours."

Henson was a sixth-round draft pick (186th overall) by the Redskins in 2009.

He earned a roster spot coming out of preseason but was deactivated on most game days. He played in six games as a rookie, seeing action primarily on special teams.

This year, Henson finds himself part of a crowd at linebacker.

The Redskins have 13 linebackers on the roster, and at least six of them--including Henson, 2010 fourth-round draft pick Perry Riley and recent veteran pickup Chris Draft--could be positioned in the middle.

The good news is that most 3-4 teams keep at least eight and sometimes nine linebackers, so Henson has a chance to make the final roster.

Having been around Redskins Park for a year, Henson feels a degree of familiarity, but he admits he is out of his comfort zone in terms of learning the new defense.

"As soon as I got used to the last system, everything switched up on me [this year]," he said. "But I think I'm adjusting pretty well. I'm still making a few mental errors here and there."

Fortunately there's time for Henson to learn from mistakes.

That's what off-season mini-camps and OTAs are for.

"On some plays that we've installed and been over again and again, I start to feel a comfort level, but the more we introduce new things it makes you uncomfortable a little bit," Henson said. "It requires you to think more and when you're thinking too much on the field, you don't react as well."

Henson said he played in a similarly complex defense in college as well.

At TCU, Henson was part of a scheme that periodically used a 4-2-5 set, with two linebackers and five defensive backs.

He excelled at TCU, logging 270 career tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Beyond playing linebacker, Henson knows he must excel on special teams in training camp to ensure a roster spot.

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