|Roll of the dice or vote of confidence: Redskins' D-line returns|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 03 August 2007 09:38|
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Phillip Daniels is getting tired of being called a gamble.|
He's part of a Washington Redskins defensive line that generated only 13 sacks last season, that ranked 27th against the run, that allowed Tiki Barber to run for 234 yards in last year's season finale.
And it's a line that did not get a substantial upgrade in the offseason. Coach Joe Gibbs and the front office signed free agents at linebacker and cornerback and drafted a safety with the No. 6 overall pick, but - in what is seen as a roll of the dice - they left the line alone.
``It's funny that they point the finger at the D-line, but there's 11 people on that field and only four D-linemen,'' Daniels said this week at training camp. ``Everything goes hand-in-hand. Everybody has to be where they're supposed to be. It wasn't just our fault up front. We're the same defensive line that got us to the playoffs two years ago.''
So, barring injuries, the front four at the season opener Sept. 9 will consist of Daniels and Andre Carter at the ends, Cornelius Griffin at one tackle and either Joe Salave'a or Kedric Golston at the other tackle. Also in the rotation will be Renaldo Wynn, Anthony Montgomery and Demetric Evans.
``All the talk about why we did not draft another guy - we definitely take our pride in our coaching. We know that we have the guys to get it done,'' Wynn said. ``We use it as an opportunity to show everyone, 'Hey, we can get it done.'''
It's just as easy to compile a list of reasons to be pessimistic as it is to spout optimism about the line.
The pessimist will point to age and injuries. Daniels is 34 and coming off wrist and ankle surgeries. Griffin, 30, was bothered most of last season by a sore hip. Salave'a, 32, has had several nagging injuries, including an ailing calf last year. Wynn, 32, had elbow surgery in the offseason.
The optimist will say those injuries are a reason to give the returnees another shot. They sputtered last year because they weren't 100 percent. Now that they are - all have been regular participants every day at camp - they can return to the form that helped the defense rank in the top 10 in 2004 and 2005.
Also, Carter, 28, should be in his prime. He needed half of a season last year to get adjusted to the defense after signing as a free agent from San Francisco. Four of his six sacks came in the last five games.
Meanwhile, low-round draft picks Golston and Montgomery showed promise as rookies in 2006 and are expected to contribute more in their second year.
``We've got a good mix of young and old guys there,'' assistant coach Gregg Williams said.
Instead of a gamble, the players see the Redskins non-moves on the defensive line as a vote of confidence. Now they have to prove the coaches were right.
``I appreciate coach Gibbs having confidence in us,'' Daniels said. ``I love to go out and prove people wrong. I take pride in that, and that's what we plan on doing.''
Notes: After last year's blase preseason, the Redskins are taking August seriously this year. They even spent much of Friday's practice game-planning for the scrimmage against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday. ``If you don't do preparations, then we go up there and you guys write nasty things about the way we look,'' Gibbs said. ... T Jon Jansen and C Casey Rabach have set up a deluxe motor home in the parking lot of Redskins Park as a place to hang out between practices, a more lively alternative than their sterile dorm rooms. ``We're just trying to break up the monotony of camp and have a little fun,'' Jansen said. ``We have a lot of downtime - why not have some fun with it, have the guys around and build a little team unity?'' ... QB Jason Campbell said he was surprised that so many fans showed up to watch the workouts this week in the stifling heat. ``You've got 5,000 people out here watching practice,'' Campbell said. ``I'd be somewhere swimming.''
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