Greg Blache isn't one to back down from anything. And the Redskins' defensive coordinator-defensive line coach, now in his second year with the team, expects the same from his players.
With the defensive line rotation in a state of uncertainty due to injuries to Cornelius Griffin, Joe Salave'a and Phillip Daniels, Blache may have to rely on backups such as Cedric Killings, Ryan Boschetti and rookie Aki Jones in Sunday's key NFC East matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Even though Killings, Boschetti and Jones are young doesn't mean that little is expected of them. Quite the contrary, Blache says.
Asked who would see the bulk of playing time in his defensive line rotation on Sunday, Blache replied bluntly: "Whoever it is, I expect them to go fight. They better fight somebody, or else they're going to have to fight me. They get to fight the other team for three hours on Sunday, or they can fight me for the rest of the year. I would fight the other team, if I were them."
You have to like a coach like Blache, who always tells it like it is.
The Redskins' defense is coming off a Giants game in which they gave up 262 rushing yards. Running back Tiki Barber had runs of 57 and 59 yards in the game.
Injuries kept the trio of Griffin, Salave'a and Daniels off the field at various points of the game and at one point forced coaches to move defensive end Demetric Evans inside. The defense has also employed a 3-4 alignment in recent weeks.
Despite the juggling of players along the line, Blache keeps his expectations high.
"I always tell the players, it's never about them, it's about us," Blache said. "If we play well, we'll win football games. If you look at all of our games, when the other team makes a play on us, it's not what they did so well, it's what we did poorly. When we focus and play our way, we'll play anybody straight up any day of the week."
Added defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn: "Every time we look at the long runs on film, we notice that we were in position to make the play. Our theme has been worrying about us. We have to correct it."
Blache has helped assemble a defensive line that does not have a marquee player, but instead works collectively as a unit. He rotates players in and out so that everyone gets playing time. That philosophy is beneficial when injuries occur.
Asked to describe his crew of defensive linemen, Blache replied: "We have big strong guys, we play square-shoulder defense, we don't run around blocks, we don't free-lance and we don't take chances. We play sound fundamental football. We're never satisfied, because we always want to get better, but that's what we teach and that's what we do."
Griffin (hip injury), Salave'a (heel) and Daniels (ankle) sat out practice on Thursday. Griffin and Salave'a remain questionable, while Daniels, who said he expects to practice on Friday, is probable.
Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said he expects all three to be game time decisions on Sunday.
"We always try to get our players one day of practice, but with those guys as veterans, we'll take the decision to play them right up until game time," Williams said. "They have had so many reps and they have so much experience. Whoever is in there, we'll have a plan for them. We'll have a plan for the skills they bring to the mix as well."