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In Prioleau, Redskins Have Their 'Mr. Utility'

Really, it's not much of a stretch for veteran safety Pierson Prioleau to join the Redskins. A smart and experienced player who will add depth to the Redskins' secondary and special teams, Prioleau played his college ball at Virginia Tech and grew up in Virginia as a dedicated Redskins fan.

"I feel like I can help this team in a lot of ways," Prioleau said Wednesday at Redskin Park, where he joined his new club. "In college, they called me 'Mr. Utility.' I'm not a real cocky guy, but I feel like there are a lot of ways I can contribute."

The 5-11, 188-pound Prioleau is a six-year NFL veteran. In his six seasons with San Francisco and Buffalo, he has appeared in 80 games with 38 starts and has amassed 276 tackles (195 solo) with 2.5 sacks and an interception.

Said Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs: "Pierson is a tough player, and we really feel he can fit into our defense. We feel he can help us in a lot of different packages."

Prioleau will compete at the safety position and serve on special teams.

"He gives us great depth," Gibbs said. "We had been watching Pierson for a while and obviously our coaches have a great background with him. We think he's our kind of guy."

Drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round (110th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft, Prioleau, who resides in Radford, Virginia, appeared in 28 games with 11 starts in his first two seasons in the league. He had 86 tackles and one interception over that span.

Prioleau was released during the 2001 preseason and signed by Buffalo in November; he spent the next three seasons with the Bills, producing 190 tackles (122 solo) while appearing in 54 games with 26 starts.

In Buffalo, he played for Redskins assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams and safeties coach Steve Jackson. Says Williams of Prioleau: "He's a tough, smart and accountable player. Pierson has a big engine and fits well into our multiple packages. He puts 100 percent effort into everything he does."

Prioleau is a cousin of former Cleveland Browns defensive end Courtney Brown, the NFL's No. 1 draft pick in 2000 who was recently released by the Browns following an injury-plagued run in Cleveland.

Asked about Brown, who played with LaVar Arrington at Penn State, Prioleau said: "He's got a good season out there ahead of him. Maybe things will work out and he'll have it here."

At Virginia Tech, Prioleau ("PRAY-low") earned first-team All-Big East and third-team All-America honors as a senior.

Prioleau resides in the area--Radford, Va.--and said location was a primary factor in deciding to sign with the Redskins.

"I reside about three-and-a-half hours from here," he said. "Growing up, everyone in my house were Redskins fans. Deep down inside, I always felt like I wanted to be a Redskin. It just seems right with the situation and the way it happened. I am excited about putting on the colors and being a part of the 'Hail Victory' and the whole nine yards."

In terms of his role in the Redskins' defense, he is likely to compete for playing time in defensive packages at both the corner and safety positions. His background on special teams is also a plus, considering that he led the Bills with 30 special teams tackles in 2004. In that capacity, he once again joins Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith, a former member of the Buffalo staff.

"We've been very selective this year about a who we've brought on to the team," said Gibbs. "We think Pierson is out kind of person. He's someone we know a lot about."

Added Prioleau: "I can play a lot of packages. I played corner in San Francisco. If you want me to lead on special teams, I will. I watched a lot of film of the guys here and it's a real good group. I am not here to say that I am the missing piece, because this group does not have any missing pieces on defense and special teams."

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