ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Age is a touchy subject for Phillip Daniels, a 35-year-old defensive end whose recent history of injuries suggests a body that should be wearing out very soon.
This offseason, Daniels took the Father Time burden and lifted it from his shoulders. Literally.
The Washington Redskins veteran joined a powerlifting team and has become a sensation. At a meet in March, he won his weight class with a 633-pound squat and a 600-pound dead-lift.
And he's not done yet. When his teammates scatter for vacation at the end of this week's offseason practices, Daniels will rejoin the Maroscher Powerlifting Team in Illinois and prepare for another meet.
``I just did 650 easy on the squat,'' Daniels said, ``so our goal is to get 700 at this meet, and I think I'll get that.''
650? Easy? Just watching him try is enough to make a regular-sized mortal wince. His intended audience, however, consists of the offensive linemen he will be facing this fall.
``If anybody wants to step in front of me to stop me from getting to the quarterback, you're welcome,'' Daniels said.
Daniels' stock as an NFL player has been on the wane lately. Yes, he's a respected locker room leader. When he's healthy, he's a solid run-stopper who can get to the quarterback. But a scan of the injury list since joining the Redskins in 2004 reveals a player that's been hurt all over: groin, ankle, elbow, back, wrist, foot, shoulder, knee.
True, Daniels plays hurt - he remained on the field with a separated shoulder during one game last year and has missed only one game since 2005 - but the injuries sapped his strength. He dropped from eight sacks in 2005 to three in 2006 to 2.5 last year.
``I had surgeries all those years and just didn't feel strong anymore,'' Daniels said. ``I felt like I needed to get stronger, and that's what I did.''
So Daniels took only two weeks off after the Redskins' loss to Seattle in the playoffs in January and then joined the powerlifting team, the first time he's dabbled in the sport since 1999, the year he had nine sacks with the Seattle Seahawks.
``It's paying off,'' Daniels said. ``I'm a lot faster coming off the ball.''
Want to touch a nerve? Ask Daniels if his powerlifting accomplishments are striking a blow for the older crowd.
``There's been so much negative talk about being 30-something and being my age and stuff,'' he said. ``People fail to see the other things I do, playing the run the way I play it, batting down balls, those little things. I took a lot of shots this offseason, but I'm out to prove everybody wrong. At the end of the year, there will be the same people coming up to me saying, 'How do you do it?' I'll tell you powerlifting is going to get me there, and it's getting me there.''
The Redskins gave Daniels a show of support by not splurging for a big-name defensive end in free agency or selecting one with a high-round pick in the draft. The team also excused him from offseason workouts so that he could stay with the powerlifting team.
``It can help him if he feels more confident,'' defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. ``If he feels like he's stronger and more confident, that's a definite advantage right there. For a 35-year-old guy, he looks pretty darn good.''
And, as Daniels pointed out, age also comes with wisdom.
``Being 30-something makes you smarter,'' Daniels said, ``in what you eat, how you train, and all those little things. I take care of my body. I eat right. I don't eat junk food or fried food. I'm going to be fine.''

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