In an offseason of change, Marcus Washington is glad that the Redskins' defense has remained mostly intact, both in terms of scheme and personnel.
What Washington hopes for in 2008 is an injury-free season.
Each of the last two years, Washington has had nagging injuries that sidelined him for several games.
In 2006, Washington missed the last two games due to a knee injury. Then he underwent hip surgery, forcing him to miss most off-season work.
Last season, Washington struggled with a forearm injury early in the season, then he was slowed by a nagging hamstring injury that sidelined him four games.
Washington, 30, hopes to put the injuries behind him. During the May 2-4 mini-camp and the first week of OTAs, he looked like his old self on the Redskins Park practice fields.
"I just want to continue to get back into the best shape I can," he said. "I'm feeling good. I take it one day at a time and do what I do."
Washington's responsibilities are not expected to change much in 2008, even though Greg Blache has taken over the reins of the defense.
Washington, 6-3 and 248 pounds, is expected to line up as a strong-side linebacker on first and second downs and a defensive end on pass-rushing downs.
His role proved effective last year. Despite the injuries that limited his playing time, he finished with 59 tackles (37 solo), five sacks and one forced fumble.
Washington's best seasons were in the 2004 and 2005 campaigns.
In 2004, he posted 130 tackles and 4.5 sacks as he earned a Pro Bowl berth. A year later, he had 125 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception and eight passes defended.
Blache is expected to simplify the defense, helping players like Washington excel in "fewer packages."
"We are trying to be a hard, physical defense that's intimidating with our speed and hitting ability," Blache said. "You can't do that when you're thinking about 20,000 different things. You can do that when you're comfortable knowing what you have to do."
During mini-camp, Washington was part of a Redskins' defense that was a step ahead of the offense in 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 work.
"[For the defense], the terminology is the same as last year," Washington said. "A lot of it is just review. We don't have to learn anything new. Most of the time, you just go in and say, 'Oh, I remember that.' It makes it a lot easier.
"Even with the [packages] that are new, we're still using the same terminology and the same technique. I'm really pleased with the way things are working out."