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Washington Aims to Get 'D' Back On Track




Marcus Washington, the Pro Bowl linebacker who is in his second year with the Redskins, is fond of wearing throwback athletic jerseys now and again.

On a recent day at Redskin Park, for instance, he was sporting the bright, red No. 42 San Francisco 49ers jersey once associated with hard-hitting safety Ronnie Lott.

Maybe there's more than a casual, attire-based connection between players such as Marcus Washington and great NFL players of the past. It's more than a modern player trying to dress for success, if you will.

In other words, what Washington shares with any outstanding NFL player is his enthusiasm, energy and commitment for the game.

The 6-3, 247-pound former Auburn star grew up in the NFL in the star system of Indianapolis. In a sense, during his years in Indy, the Colts had Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison...and a bunch of other guys.

Since coming to the Redskins in March of last year, Washington, rather than seeking stardom, has shown the ability to fit in to those defensive schemes employed by Gregg Williams, schemes that were good enough to finish third overall among NFL defenses in 2004.

In his first year as a Redskin, as we know, Washington produced career highs in tackles (130) and sacks (4.5), numbers that earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

It's not as if Washington and the defense that ranked third overall in 2004 have drifted off the face of the earth. But it does look like the Redskins' defense and its leader need to pick up the pace again after giving up crucial yardage to Shaun Alexander and Tatum Bell in back-to-back games.

Bell chimed in for 127 yards on 12 carries Sunday. The Redskins had him bottled up for the most part, the exceptions being the 34-yard TD burst in the first quarter and the 55-yard TD run in the third quarter.

A great time to get back on track is, of course, Week 6 at Kansas City. The Chiefs can count on one of the league's top offensive lines and two of the NFL's most challenging backs in Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.

"They're both good, tough backs," Washington said. "Priest is more of a slashing back, and we have to be careful of him catching passes out of the backfield. Larry Johnson is a bigger back, a load to take down."

As a group, the Redskins have produced just four sacks so far--one each by Demetric Evans, Cornelius Griffin and Lemar Marshall, with another attributed to the team as a whole--while giving up 10.

The defense has also forced just two turnovers so far this season, while yielding four on offense.

Marcus Washington is without a sack yet but considering his talents and how hard he works in practice and film study, though, you know it's only a matter of time before the sacks come. He leads the team in tackles with 36 (27 solo).

The same could be said for Gregg Williams' defense as a whole. This is a defense with a Pro Bowl linebacker at its core and a No. 3 ranking on its resume. They need to dominate again, as in the fourth quarter of the opener versus Chicago.

As Williams frequently says, sacks most often come after you've established that you can stop the run. The latter won't be easy against Holmes and Johnson but this Redskins defense has a history of rising to the occasion.

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