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As a Redskin, Smoot's Back In His Element

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Fred Smoot wants to turn back the clock.

He wants the Redskins' defense to go back to 2004, when the unit finished fourth overall in the NFL, recorded 41 sacks and 26 turnovers, and was dominant under assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams.

As a Minnesota Viking the last two years, Smoot said he watched the Redskins' defense from afar. He saw that Williams had tweaked his scheme as he adjusted to his personnel.

Now, with Smoot, middle linebacker London Fletcher and safety LaRon Landry on board, Williams has adjusted his scheme again.

"We're going back to how we played in my last year here [in 2004]," Smoot said. "We were real aggressive and we got after people."

Smoot made his return to the Redskins Park practice fields for the start of OTAs this month.

He had rejoined the Redskins in March, signing on as an unrestricted free agent after the Vikings released him.

"It was wonderful, just to be back around the guys I'm used to being around," he said. "I've been hanging around the last few weeks, so it feels like I'm back. I'm in the house."

Has it been hard to re-learn Williams' defensive playbook? Or did it come naturally?

"I still have to think about it, because remember I haven't played in this system for two years," he replied. "It's coming back real quick."

Smoot, entering his seventh NFL season, has played in six different defensive systems in the NFL. He has been coached by the likes of coordinators Kurt Schottenheimer, Marvin Lewis, Williams and Mike Tomlin.

He is excited about playing in a familiar defense.

And he's excited about how Williams--and secondary-cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray--will use him in 2007.

In Minnesota, Smoot played more zone defense, which he believes did not best use his skills.

"Point blank, I was out of my element," he said. "I'm a man-to-man corner. I was supposed to play Cover 3 the first year I was there. Then I played Cover 2 the second year. That's just not what I do.

"I take people one on one and take them out of the game. I want to get back to doing what I do."

Smoot logged three interceptions in two seasons as a Viking.

Drafted by the Redskins in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, Smoot had 16 picks in his first four seasons with the Redskins, including a career-high five during his rookie campaign.

He led the Redskins in interceptions for three consecutive seasons from 2001-03, establishing a franchise mark.

The Redskins can certainly use a playmaker who can force turnovers on defense. The team forced just 12 turnovers last season, fewest in the NFL.

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