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For Brown, A Smooth Transition Into Lineup

Just another game.

That's how 43-year-old Ray Brown characterized his 247th career NFL start, which came last Saturday in the Redskins' 35-20 win over the New York Giants.

It was Brown's first start of his 20th NFL season. He has replaced the injured Randy Thomas at right guard for the remainder of the season.

Brown has indicated that he could be heading into the final stretch of his impressive career.

Asked if his latest starting assignment was an "ideal script" to close out a solid career, Brown replied: "I want to be part of a playoff team--that would be my ideal script. I don't know how it's going to go. I didn't have any type of fantasies about this year. I've always prepared to play. My regimen has been pretty much the same. I'll come in, watch film and work out. Now I just happen to be on the first-team. I happen to be starting."

In his preparation last week, Brown kept his routine simple. He expects to do the same this week in preparation for the regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I can't start to put bells and whistles on any game that I play because it would get in the way of my preparation," he said. "So I've kept things pretty basic. I've done the things that I've done all season. Last week, I had a whole bunch of reps in practice, so that was the only different thing."

Brown has served primarily as a backup at both guard and tackle this season. When left tackle Chris Samuels was sidelined during a game earlier this season, Brown stepped in. He has played guard most of his career, so stepping in for Thomas was no problem.

Head coach Joe Gibbs has been appreciative of Brown's presence this season, whether it's as a leader in the locker room or as the team's new starter.

"The thing about Ray is, he's not going to panic," Gibbs said. "He's been around forever. He was able to play tackle for us last year and now he's come in to play guard. He's a pretty unusual person. He's been given a great body, but with Ray, it's also about character."

Interestingly, Brown said he felt he was best suited to play tackle at this point of his career. In Gibbs' offensive scheme, guards are often required to pull in their blocking assignments, a task that requires a degree of speed.

"I was starting to feel that my abilities were best suited at tackle because I'm not as fast as I used to be," Brown said. "As you get older, blocking is about leg strength. I was able to trick this league into thinking that I can play inside. That's what I've gotten by on: guile, veteran savvy and leaning on my teammates."

Brown has played in 10 postseason games in his career, including the NFC Championship Game with the San Francisco 49ers in 1997. He knows when he sees a team coming together--and that's what he sees in a Redskins squad that has won four consecutive games.

Now the Redskins have put themselves in position to make the postseason--Brown's "ideal script."

"We are playing very connected," Brown said. "We are feeding off of how special teams are playing. The defense is stopping offenses and giving us good field position. Offensively, we are responding by finishing with some touchdowns."

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