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Versatility Still a Key For Defensive Ends

The addition of Andre Carter to the defensive end rotation this offseason would appear to create a logjam at the position.

Not so, according to assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams.

Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn, last year's starting defensive ends, both have the experience and versatility to play inside at defensive tackle, particularly on pass-rushing downs, Williams said.

Williams and defensive coordinator-defensive line coach Greg Blache will likely experiment with various lineups during the preseason.

"On the defensive line, we don't play guys 50 or 70 snaps," Williams said earlier this offseason. "When we dress seven defensive linemen on game day, we're trying to get an equal number of snaps for all of them.

"The defensive ends usually get a few more snaps because we pull the tackles out on pass downs. I really like the fact that we can move Phillip and Renaldo inside on passing downs."

Last season, Daniels logged 72 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles while Wynn had 47 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble. All season long, they helped occupy offensive linemen, allowing linebackers to make tackles.

Daniels, a 10-year veteran, and Wynn, a 9-year veteran, were especially dominant down the stretch, when the Redskins won five consecutive games to earn a playoff bid.

Carter also has versatility--not as a tackle, but as a linebacker. Last season, he played outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme employed by head coach Mike Nolan.

Said Williams: "Andre is versatile--he can play both sides and he can play linebacker, with the experience he had last year in a 3-4 scheme. That versatility helps us, as a defensive staff, on schemes."

Added head coach Joe Gibbs: "With what Andre can do, when we analyze him on film, we felt like he was a real impact player with a great motor. We saw him stand up [at linebacker] and play, we saw him with his hand down [at defensive end] and play. He also can go inside. He's played over the guards, too."

As a linebacker last season, Carter recorded 58 tackles and 4.5 sacks for the 49ers.

Carter is expected to play mostly defensive end in Williams' schemes, however. He produced his finest season at end in 2002, logging a career-high 12.5 sacks.

"That's the position I have been playing since I was in the 10th grade and started playing football," Carter said. "So for me, it's great being back in the trenches because that is where it all started with me."

When the Redskins signed Carter on March 14, both Gibbs and Williams quickly dispelled suggestions that Wynn's future in Washington was in doubt.

"Renaldo is our defensive captain and there's no doubt in my mind that he'll bounce back from his [forearm] injury," Williams said. "The thing that I marvel about with Renaldo is how in the last two years, he has become faster and quicker in December.

"He's a vet who understands how important that is when it comes time for the playoffs. He's a very valuable leadership guy for us on the defensive side of the ball."

Wynn said recently that he is feeling no lingering aftereffects of his forearm injury. He suffered a fracture in the forearm in the Redskins' 17-10 Wild Card playoff win over Tampa Bay on Jan. 7.

Wynn is also excited about the prospect of playing with Carter.

"When the team brings a guy in, they don't just look at athletic ability, they look at how that player fits in for our team," Wynn said. "[Carter] certainly fits in. He's a good guy and he works hard on the field. I feel like his addition definitely makes us better as a defensive team."

Demetric Evans, a backup defensive end the last two seasons, has also developed into a versatile player for the Redskins.

When defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave'a were struggling through injuries mid-season last year, Evans was shifted inside to start three games at tackle.

Evans, who has shown continual improvement each of his three years in the league, had 32 tackles and three sacks last season. He added seven tackles and a sack in the postseason.

"I don't see a big change in my role," Evans said shortly after re-signing with the Redskins last March. "I've shown that I can play a number of positions, and hopefully it'll be more of the same this year."

The Redskins also have several young defensive ends hoping to make their mark this offseason.

Nic Clemons, the brother of Redskins linebacker Chris Clemons, saw limited playing time last season, and Karon Riley is hoping to transition back to the NFL after playing in the Canadian Football League in 2005.

One young player to watch could be undrafted rookie Joe Sykes out of Southern. Sykes is a 6-2, 266-pound defensive end who may be somewhat raw, but he has the size and long arms that coaches like in 4-3 alignments.

As a senior at Southern, Sykes played in nine games and had 53 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.

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