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In Year 2, Montgomery Eyes a 'Big' Step Up

Anthony Montgomery may have bulked up 10 pounds since March, but he still expects to play at a high speed once the regular season arrives.

How so?

It's a matter of knowing the Redskins' defensive scheme better and knowing the scope of plays.

"Last year, when a play was called, I had to play it over in my head to make sure I was doing the right thing," Montgomery said. "This year, when they call a play, I know what I'm doing and I can just go with the snap full-speed."

For Montgomery, improving from a "mental standpoint" is the key to his progression. He continues to refine his technique, through repetition. But knowing how and when to attack the line of scrimmage should help him improve his game.

The 6-5, 315-pound defensive tackle played in five games last year, with one start. He logged 11 tackles and a half-sack.

Montgomery spent the offseason working with the Redskins' strength and conditioning coaches. It was his first in the team's program, designed to maximize his physical skill set to the defensive tackle position.

The Redskins hope Montgomery can challenge for playing time. Cornelius Griffin and Kedric Golston, a sixth-round draft pick last year, ended the 2006 season as starters. Golston also bulked up this offseason, adding nearly 25 pounds to his frame.

With the Redskins focused on upgrading the secondary last offseason, head coach Joe Gibbs pointed to improvement by Montgomery and Golston as among the keys to the defensive line in 2007.

"We're expecting them to take a big step up," Gibbs said.

The Redskins' defense struggled last season, finishing 31st overall. The unit was ranked 23rd against the run and produced just 19 sacks.

The team won't know for sure what impact Montgomery's off-season work will have on his performance until training camp begins on Friday.

Through OTAs and mini-camp, Montgomery feels he has improved.

"I'm a lot quicker and I think my pass rush is a lot better," he said. "I'm able to run to the ball a lot better. From a mental standpoint, I'm a lot more comfortable with the scheme--and everything."

He figures to battle Joe Salave'a for playing time, but he'll likely fit into defensive coordinator-defensive line coach Greg Blache's rotation.

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