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Randle El Knows What to Expect From Steelers


It has been three years since Antwaan Randle El played in Pittsburgh, but he still carries a little bit of the Steelers with him.

When you help win a Super Bowl championship for a city, as Randle El did in 2005 with the Steelers, you're a part of that city's history forever.

On Monday night, Randle El plays his former team for the first time in a regular season game. (He previously played against them in 2007 preseason.)

Randle El admits the game is a "little more heightened," but that's also because it's a Monday Night Football stage and the Redskins are 6-2 and the Steelers are 5-2.

If anyone on the Redskins knows what the Steelers are about, it's Randle El.

Randle El was a second-round draft choice by the Steelers in 2002. In four seasons in Pittsburgh, Randle El developed his skills as a wide receiver and was a key component in the Steelers' run to Super Bowl XL in 2005.

He signed with the Redskins as a free agent in March 2006.

"There are a lot of the same faces on defense from when I played there--more so than offense," Randle El said. "I still talk to some of the guys on the phone, but we all know that [friendship] gets cut out when you hit the field [on game days]."

The Steelers are a physical 3-4 defense and they like to get after quarterbacks with linebackers. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have combined for 16 sacks so far.

Randle El is expected to match up against cornerback Ike Taylor, who was a first-year starter on the Steelers' 2005 club. He could also line up against cornerback Deshea Townsend, an 11-year veteran.

"I know how to prepare for them, but this is three seasons down the line," Rande El. "Certainly they have gotten better since I left, so it's going to be a matter of going out and playing well."

With Harrison and Woodley providing pressure, it gives their cornerbacks and safeties an opportunity to "jump some routes and anticipate some throws," Randle El said.

With the Redskins, Randle El has emerged as a legitimate threat at wide receiver behind Santana Moss.

This season, he is on pace to set career highs in receptions and receiving yards. He has 33 receptions for 409 yards and one touchdown through eight games.

He set career highs last year with 51 catches for 728 yards.

In Pittsburgh, Randle El was mostly a third option at wide receiver and a kick return specialist.

As a former college quarterback, he would occasionally throw passes on option plays. For his career, he has thrown 19-of-23 passes (including 2-for-2 this year) for 264 yards and four touchdowns.

In 2005, Randle El's Steelers beat Seattle that year by a score of 21-10. Jim Zorn was a quarterbacks coach on the team and Shaun Alexander was the Seahawks' top running back.

Randle El's most memorable play? On a wide receiver option, he threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward to provide the final points of the Super Bowl. He became the first wide receiver to throw a TD pass in a Super Bowl game.

Randle El said the '05 Steelers were a confident group, mostly because they knew they could compete with any team in the AFC that year.

"We had played Cincinnati twice already and we knew we could beat them [in the Wild Card round]," he said. "We played Indianapolis and we knew we could stay with them [in the Divisional Playoff round].

"And then there was Denver [in the AFC Championship game]--that was the only team we weren't sure about. But we had a game plan going against Denver like never before--on offense and on defense. It certainly worked out on the field."

Randle El was among several Steelers that left Pittsburgh in the subsequent seasons. He admitted the decision to leave was a tough one.

"People don't understand how tough it was because when you win a championship, you definitely want to have a chance to defend it," Randle El said. "You also want to be comfortable and welcomed and wanted, if you will. It didn't work out."

Now he has an opportunity to make new memories with his new team and new city.

Standing in the way at the midpoint of the 2008 season? His old team.

"I'm ready," he said. "This is a 'Let's line up and do it' game. There probably won't be too much trash talking--maybe a little from me because I used to play with them. There'll be a little more [energy], but playing them is not as weird as I thought it would be."

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