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NFC East Is Stacked At Defensive End

Andre Carter, one of the Redskins' key free agent acquisitions for the 2006 season, had a quiet first game as a Redskin, recording three tackles in Monday night's season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Carter will need to be a real force against Dallas this Sunday night, when he will be lined up against left tackle Flozell Adams, a Pro Bowler in 2004.

The Redskins must find a way to get pressure on the Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who lacks mobility in the pocket. In last year's Week 15 matchup between Washington and Dallas at FedExField, the Redskins posted seven sacks in a 35-7 win.

At 6-4 and 265 pounds, Carter is an exceptional athlete with incredible speed around the edges, a great burst to the quarterback and a tireless work ethic. He also has quick hands and the ability to shed bigger blockers.

A six-year NFL veteran out of California, Carter registered 12.5 sacks in his sophomore NFL season in 2002 and once totaled 17.5 sacks in a 22-game stretch. Overall, Carter has 214 career tackles (163 solo), 32 sacks and 8.5 forced fumbles.

Drafted in the first round (seventh overall pick) by San Francisco in 2001, Carter as a rookie in the NFC West faced Pro Bowlers Orlando Pace of St. Louis and Walter Jones of Seattle four times. That will give a young player a quick indoctrination into the NFL.

With the Redskins, Carter is expected to be in a rotation at defensive end that also features veterans Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn. Daniels is coming off an eight-sack season and had that spectacular four-sack game versus the Cowboys last December.

It's not just the Redskins, though, who appear to be loaded at the defensive end spot all of a sudden. To look around the NFC East is to see a wealth of talent at the position.

Dallas, which runs a 3-4 defensive scheme, got eight sacks out of Greg Ellis last year. Ellis, who is now lining up at strong-side linebacker, also had 21 quarterback pressures.

Marcus Spears logged 35 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Cowboys last year, while weak-side linebacker DeMarcus Ware recorded eight sacks and 19 quarterback pressures.

Philadelphia has added former New Orleans Saint Darren Howard to go along with Jevon Kearse. Pass-rushing end Trent Cole had two sacks last Sunday against the Houston Texans; Kearse had one.

The Giants have a pair of Pro Bowlers at defensive end in Michael Strahan and emerging star Osi Umenyiora. The Giants used their first-round draft pick on another defensive end, Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College.

What it means is that offensive tackles in the NFC East--in the case of the Redskins, Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen--will have to bring their best every week in terms of 2006 division games.

You could make a serious case for the fact that the NFC East is looking like the toughest division in the league once again. Part of your argument would have to include the strength of defensive ends.

As far as Andre Carter is concerned, the quest to make a name for himself with his new team and in his new division could begin against Dallas--in prime time.

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