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Most Improved Redskin? It's Dock

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When it comes to coming up with game-altering plays, offensive lineman usually are credited for key blocks. Left guard Derrick Dockery drew praise several times this season for his blocking, but also for his quick thinking and all-out hustle.

In the Redskins' 17-10 Wild Card playoff win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jan. 7, Dockery came up with a punishing block that helped Clinton Portis to a six-yard TD burst early in the game.

That block came on Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks, one of the NFL's top linebackers for the past decade.

On Dec. 24 against the New York Giants, Dockery raced downfield on a wide receiver screen and blocked Giants' safety Gibril Wilson, allowing Santana Moss to score on a 17-yard touchdown pass. It was the first score of a game the Redskins would go on to win 35-20 at FedExField.

And in the Redskins' NFC East showdown with Philadelphia on Nov. 6, also at FedExField, Dockery raced downfield to recover a fumble and keep a drive alive.

On the play, Mark Brunell connected with Chris Cooley on a 13-yard pass reception to the Redskins' 6-yard line. But as Cooley struggled for extra yardage, the ball popped loose. It was on the turf for the taking for what seemed like a long time.

Several Eagles seemed ready to converge on the ball, but out of nowhere came Redskins left guard Derrick Dockery, all 6-6 and 335 pounds of him. The third-year pro out of Texas pounced on the fumble in one of the most important sequences of a game the Redskins would go on to win 17-10.

To look back on the 2005 NFL season, in which the Redskins returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and finished 11-7 overall, is to see that Dockery may have been the team's most improved player.

Dockery is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason and re-signing him could be key to maintaining stability and cohesion on the offensive line.

Early in his NFL career, Dockery was at times plagued by various penalties that all young offensive linemen have to overcome--jumping offsides, getting holding penalties and the like.

His most frustrating moment may have come during his rookie season of 2003 in Buffalo in a game the Redskins lost 24-7 in Week 7. With Washington driving for a touchdown deep in Bills territory, Dockery and quarterback Patrick Ramsey inadvertently became entangled and Ramsey fell to the ground.

For the most part, Dockery stayed away from such mistakes in 2005 and developed into a solid offensive lineman for assistant head coach Joe Bugel's group.

By season's end, Dockery had started his 45th consecutive game for the Redskins, tops on the team.

Bugel's offensive line played at a high level for most of the 2005 campaign, with Pro Bowler Chris Samuels at left tackle, Dockery at left guard, Casey Rabach at center, Randy Thomas or Ray Brown at right guard and Jon Jansen at right tackle.

Even though he may get overlooked in that group, Dockery, one of Samuels' dedicated workout buddies, stepped up his game in a demonstrable way in 2005.

"Yes, I think I improved this year," said the soft-spoken, 25-year old out of Lakeview, Texas. "But I know I have room for improvement, too. I'm really looking forward to next year."

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