Marcus Washington began Wednesday talking about Buccaneers running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams earning NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. By day's end, Washington had claimed his own award: NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of December.
Washington finished the month (including the Jan. 1 game vs. Philadelphia) with 35 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
His finest game may have been last Sunday at Philadelphia, when he recorded a team-high 11 tackles (nine solo), one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also logged an interception and two sacks in Week 15 against Dallas.
Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams paid Washington a high compliment earlier this season when he said that the Redskins' defense would be "very average to mediocre" without Washington.
"A lot of the parts of his game have improved," Williams said. "We've done a better job of making sure that we're putting him in some situations where he can rush the passer. When we've battled through injuries, we've asked him to do many different things."
Williams also admires how Washington continuously plays with a high level of energy.
"I don't know what he's on, but I would like to have a little bit of that," Williams said, laughing. "He never, ever, has a bad day. It really carries over to his teammates. He's always upbeat and he always loves to practice."
On Wednesday, Washington said he could feel the team going in the right direction even when he signed with the team in March 2004.
"First thing is playing for a Hall of Fame coach in Coach Gibbs," Washington said. "Four Super Bowls, he won three, so that says a lot about a coach. Coach Williams coming in and getting to meet him, and the kind of attitude that he has, and all the other assistant coaches, you see the amount of work they put into it.
"Coach Gibbs, sleeping over and everybody not leaving, says a lot. We work really hard and we're probably one of the hardest working teams in the NFL. You just get out of it what you put into it. If you work hard, I think you're going to get a lot out of it."
On Saturday, Washington will have Carnell Williams in his sights. The rookie back rushed for 1,178 yards on 290 carries, with six touchdowns, this season. Both Washington and Williams are Auburn alums.
"I think him being NFC Rookie of the Year is well deserved," Washington said. "I'm a big Cadillac fan. He runs the ball with a lot of intensity-he's not a huge back but he runs really big. He's kind of similar to [Dallas Cowboys running back] Julius Jones in the way he runs. The more runs he gets, the more tackles he breaks. It seems like he gets stronger as games progress."
-- SPRINGS LISTED AS QUESTIONABLE
Cornerback Shawn Springs sat out Wednesday's practice with a groin injury and is officially listed as questionable for Saturday's Wild Card game against Tampa Bay.
Team officials will continue to evaluate Springs as he progresses this week.
Heading into the playoffs, the Redskins' injury report was as light as it's been most of the season. Along with Springs, defensive end Renaldo Wynn sat out practice on Wednesday due to a foot injury, but is listed as probable for the game.
"Shawn didn't practice, but other than that, we had a pretty good complement out there," Joe Gibbs said.
Meantime, rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers is expected to return to action this Saturday. He has missed the last three games due to a biceps injury.
"Carlos looked good," Gibbs said. "We were kidding him, we said, 'You look fresh. You should.'"
If Springs is unable to play, Rogers and Walt Harris would likely draw the starting assignment on Saturday, with Ade Jimoh serving as a nickel cornerback.
-- ALL-WHITE UNIFORMS IN TAMPA
The Redskins are expected to wear their all-white uniforms for the sixth consecutive game this Saturday versus Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers have informed the league that they will wear their red jerseys for the Wild Card game. Since home teams determine the team jersey colors for games, this means the Redskins can wear white jerseys and white pants.
The Redskins are 5-0 since they started wearing white-on-white uniforms in the Week 13 game at St. Louis.
Joe Gibbs has said players decide which jersey color the team wears for games.
-- GIBBS IN THE POSTSEASON
Fast facts on Joe Gibbs' coaching record in the playoffs:
- Playoff Record: 16-5
- Wild Card/Divisional Playoff Record: 9-3
- NFC Championship Games: 4-1
- Super Bowls: 3-1
- Playoff Road Record: 4-3
- Overall January Record: 18-4
- Gibbs' teams have qualified for the playoffs eight times and have been eliminated in the first round only once (1984)
- Gibbs has entered the playoffs as a Wild Card three times (1986, 1990 and 1992) and advanced past the first round each time.