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With Daniels Down, Evans Looks to Step Up

For about the past four or five years, the group on the Redskins that has seemed to form the closest bond has been the defensive line.

For that reason, it was really emotionally-draining to lose veteran Phillip Daniels so very early in training camp.

Demetric Evans, who is a University of Georgia product along with Daniels and Kedric Golston among Redskins defensive linemen, took the news concerning Daniels as hard as anyone.

"Phillip was like a big brother to us, especially me," Evans said. "When I came here in 2004, I came from NFL Europe and he was the guy who said, 'You're from Georgia, I'll take you under my wing.'"

Daniels invited teammates to attend the Super Bowl with him and encouraged them to take part in his tough, off-season workout regimen. The 13-year NFL veteran was known to be a driving force in off-season fishing expeditions involving his teammates, too.

Speaking of Daniels' injury, Evans said: "It was just a freak accident, a guy goes down on the first play of 7-on-7 when there really wasn't any contact. To know how hard he worked, it is just a humbling experience."

The Redskins didn't wait long to swing a trade with Miami that landed them the game's top active sack leader in Jason Taylor.

Even tough Taylor is now on board, Evans figures to be key part of the defensive line rotation in 2008.

Through the first work of training camp, Evans, the 6-4, 275-pound seven-year veteran, has looked to be sharp. In the July 26 intra-squad scrimmage at Redskins Park, Evans had two deflected passes.

Throughout 2008, Evans will be working hard to make sure he doesn't let his mentor down.

That would be Daniels, of course.

"My heart goes out to him," Evans said. "I can't control who comes in, who goes out. I just have to come out every day and put my best foot forward. If you're going to be the best you can be, you have to battle."

Evans added: "My approach is the same. I have to go out and be consistent, go out and work hard and be productive."

In the 2005 postseason, Evans stepped in for another key veteran leader, Renaldo Wynn, with success.

That was in the playoff game at Tampa Bay, when Wynn, now with the Giants, suffered a broken forearm and Evans came off the bench to sack Chris Simms.

Evans had his best game of 2007 in the November matchup between the Eagles and the Redskins at FedExField. He came up with six tackles and a forced fumble that day.

When the Redskins turned back the Giants 22-10 on Dec. 16 at the Meadowlands last year, Evans was able to get pressure on Eli Manning and had two pass deflections, including a key one in the fourth quarter when the Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champs, were trying to rally.

Overall in 2007, Evans produced 32 tackles and one sack, coming against Jon Kitna of the Lions. His versatility along the defensive line and his ability to play on special teams make him a valuable player heading into 2008.

"He needs to fill a void, and he will," head coach Jim Zorn said. "He has some size to him and he is going to have to be a good run-stopper. He is going to have to give us some stability there as a pass-rusher.

"I expect to slot him in and go. It's what we have to do."

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