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Early On, Redskins' Defense Is Rising Up

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In the Redskins' first two preseason games, the defense appears to be making strides and coming together as a unit.

In the second year in Jim Haslett's 3-4 defense, comfort levels are rising – something that players believe is important for a unit that finished 31st overall in 2010.

"Guys are more comfortable making calls, being able to play fast, so that makes a difference," linebacker London Fletcher said. "We are able to play faster, because we are not doing a lot of [over-analyzing] like we have in the past."

Fellow linebacker Brian Orakpo echoed the same sentiment.

"It's a vast improvement from last year," Orakpo said. "Guys are getting more familiar with the defense. They are able to go out there and react. Guys are able to just play their game and that's the most important thing."

It has shown in the Redskins' first two preseason games.

The defense is ranked No. 1 overall in preseason rankings thus far, allowing only 168 yards of total offense per game.

Last Friday, in the Redskins' 16-3 win over Indianapolis, the Colts were only able to muster 150 yards of total offense against the Redskins. They converted only 3 of 12 third-down attempts.

The defense received a boost on Sunday when Fletcher, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Josh Wilson returned to practice. All three had been slowed by hamstring and groin injuries.

While it is only preseason, the importance of these games is not lost on players.

"It means a lot because we have five or six new starters on defense, so just getting our chemistry together, playing fast and understanding the different calls is key," Fletcher said. "We are preparing each and every week to get better so when we open the season against the [New York] Giants, we are clicking on all cylinders."

Winning the preseason games is equally important, adds linebacker Lorenzo Alexander.

"You always want to win and create a winning atmosphere around here," he said. "You always want to have a good showing." he said.

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