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Fox Looks Ahead to Matchup With Lions

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Some players hold grudges against teams they used to play for. Others understand that the NFL is a business and player movement is part of the game.

Count Redskins defensive back Vernon Fox among the latter group.

The Redskins take on the Detroit Lions, Fox's former team from 2004-05, this Sunday at FedExField. At 3-1, the Lions are one of the surprise teams of the NFL.

Said Fox: "Other than just being excited to play a team that I formerly was a part of, I don't feel like I have anything to prove [to the Lions organization]. I feel like this is a business and football is football.

"I'm just excited that we have an opportunity to play them while their morale is high and they're playing well. It's good to get them coming in here feeling like that, because I feel like we can give them a run for their money."

Fox, a 5-10, 203-pound safety, was a surprise cut by the Lions in August 2006. A year earlier, he had finished third in special teams tackles for the Lions and was voted by his teammates as one of three special teams captains.

Shortly after his release from the Lions, the Redskins--a club that always places a high value on quality special teams players--quickly signed him.

Fox proved his value with the Redskins last year, finishing third in special teams tackles with 26 and logging a blocked punt. He started six games at strong safety and finished with 42 tackles and one interception.

Fox entered the 2007 offseason as an unrestricted free agent, but he opted to re-sign with the Redskins.

"I feel like I am where I'm supposed to be and I'm excited about being a Redskin," he said. "That's the most important thing to me."

When Fox played for Detroit, the Lions were among the worst teams in the NFL, posting a combined 11-21 record in 2004-05. Things have changed, and the Lions are among the surprise teams of the 2007 season.

"I think they are learning how to win, get things going and get confidence," Fox said. "The old mentality of getting in close games and you don't know how to win--they're moving away from that."

Fox has never played for an NFL team that has posted a winning record, but he feels he has a sense of what it takes to turn around a perennial losing franchise.

"It's always hard to turn [a franchise] around," he said. "It just takes a different frame of mind and the mindset of the players taking the initiative to turn it around. Whatever negative thing is going on, you have to take shake out of it.

"And when you do that, there's no turning back."

The Lions come in to Sunday's game with the NFL's top-ranked passing offense, which is sure to be a challenge for a Redskins' defense ranked 13th against the pass.

Fox said the defensive backs are looking at the pass-happy Lions as an "opportunity."

"You don't want to be back there in open field tackling guys running downhill," Fox said. "You want the ball in the air. You want opportunities to go get it, give the offense the ball back, so we can start putting up points and start putting teams away.

"That excites us as defensive backs and we see [Sunday's game] as an opportunity."

In the early going of 2007, Fox has been slowed by a groin injury that kept him out of the Redskins' last two games. He returned to practice this week and is on target to play against Detroit.

"Physically, my body feels really good," Fox said.

Fox will play with a heavy heart, though. Last week, his brother-in-law was killed. He did not go into details of the incident.

"It's a tough thing to deal with, but I know that God will strengthen me and give me what I need for me and my family," he said.

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