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Sartz Is No Stranger to FedExField


Rookie linebacker Dallas Sartz is hoping to see some NFL action at FedExField this fall.

Sartz has already seen what the scene is like for a college game.

In his junior season Sartz was on the USC team that opened at FedExField with a 24-13 win over Virginia Tech.

He produced three tackles in the Aug. 28, 2004 game played on the Redskins' home turf.

"It was an unbelievable atmosphere that night," recalled Sartz, the 6-4, 235-pounder selected by the Redskins on the fifth round (143rd overall) of last weekend's NFL draft. "I just remember how loud the stadium was, with all of those Virginia Tech people. I can only imagine what it's like for an NFL game."

This weekend, Sartz was one of 85 drafted players, undrafted free agents and other prospects who took part in workouts at Redskins Park.

Sartz was trying to make a positive initial impression on Gregg Williams and new Redskins linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti. His first efforts at the NFL level went about as expected.

Said Olivadotti: "Dallas did well. We see him as a very conscientious young player, and as a player who has good movement skills, good foot skills. Like any young player, he has to prove that he can make the adjustment to the physical nature of the NFL game."

Sartz should have learned a great deal about the NFL from his position coach at USC.

Ken Norton, Jr., one of the premier linebackers in the NFL, spent 13 seasons in the league and is the only player to have been a part of three consecutive Super Bowl-winning teams--the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993 and the 49ers in 1994.

"Working with Coach Norton was a real blessing," said Sartz. "You couldn't ask for a better coach to help mentor you about the ins and outs of the NFL. He was constantly telling us the little things about playing in the NFL."

In 2003, as a sophomore, Sartz began to put up solid numbers with 60 tackles. He suffered a shoulder injury in 2005 and red-shirted for the season. Last year as a senior, he broke through with 70 tackles and seven sacks.

There's a precedent for the Redskins expending their second and third picks in the NFL Draft on linebackers, as they did this year in selecting Dallas Sartz and Pitt's H.B. Blades (sixth round, 179th overall).

In the 1997 NFL Draft, Washington chose Kenard Lang, the defensive end out of the University of Miami, at No. 17 on the first round. After that, the Redskins picked Colorado linebacker Greg Jones (51st overall) and Arizona State linebacker Derek Smith (80th overall).

University of Richmond linebacker Shawn Barber came on board as a fourth rounder (113th overall) the following season and by 1999 Redskins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was planning to have the trio of Jones, Smith and Barber in place as the team's starting linebackers for a long time.

That plan never really worked out, though.

It's a different situation for this year's second and third picks, Sartz and Blades.

Since they're trying to join a team that has brought in veteran London Fletcher to go along with Marcus Washington, Lemar Marshall, Rocky McIntosh and others, Sartz and Blades should try to impress Danny Smith as well as Williams and Olivadotti.

Special teams probably represents their window of opportunity.

Last year, linebackers Khary Campbell (37 tackles) and McIntosh (25) were two of the four most effective special teams players. James Thrash (26 tackles) and Rock Cartwright (25) made impacts as well.

McIntosh, the Redskins' top pick (35th overall) last year, had to sit and wait his turn as a rookie. His opportunities didn't come until Weeks 16 and 17.

In the meantime, McIntosh made his mark on special teams. Versus Carolina on Week 12 at FedExField, McIntosh blocked a Jason Baker punt in the third quarter. That sequence gave the Redskins a much-needed spark in a 17-13 win.

With his first practice over, Sartz said: "Just being able to step onto this field is a big thing. Being able to put on this jersey and helmet and come out here to compete is a big step. Now I need to hit the playbook pretty hard, learn the plays, talk to the coaches and do everything I can to improve."

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