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Thrash: All-Around Asset On Redskins

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In the long, historic rivalry between the Redskins and Eagles, not many players have seen it from both sides. Those who have include Sonny Jurgensen, Brian Mitchell, Raleigh McKenzie and--currently--wide receiver James Thrash.

Thrash spent the first four years of his career (1997-2000) with the Redskins. He went to Philly for the next three seasons, before returning to Washington, D.C., for the last two years.

When David Patten went down with a knee injury in Week 10, Thrash was a reliable option at wide receiver for head coach Joe Gibbs. Thrash started 47 games for the Eagles from 2001-03 and four games last year for the Redskins.

But Thrash was sidelined from Weeks 12-15 with a hamstring injury. He returned to action last week in the win against the New York Giants. With a full week of work under his belt, he expects to play a larger role on offense in the regular-season finale against Philadelphia.

How important has the nine-year NFL veteran been for the Redskins? Just ask his teammates.

"He's a guy that when, everyone else is getting tired or saying 'We don't feel like going out there today,' he really motivates us," wide receiver Taylor Jacobs said. "When he's out at practice, he's flying around any time he gets a chance. He's really detail-oriented."

Added safety Matt Bowen: "He's always around the ball on special teams. He makes plays on offense. He could probably play defensive back if he wanted to. Even during practice, he never takes a play off. That's how he runs his life both on and off the field. He's always full-go."

In Philadelphia, Thrash played a vital role as the Eagles reached the NFC Championship game in each of his three seasons in South Philly.

Although the Eagles are now again a division rival for Thrash, he holds nothing but fond memories from his time there. It was Thrash who the Eagles traded away to Washington after they acquired Terrell Owens prior to the 2004 season.

Asked about his years in Philadelphia, Thrash said recently: "It was an awesome experience. There are a lot of great people I met up there. There are still many people who I call friends."

He says he still keeps in touch with wide receiver Todd Pinkston and quarterback Donovan McNabb, among other former Eagle teammates.

When the 6-0, 200-pound Missouri Southern product returned to the Nation's Capital prior to last season, he was eager to contribute. With Gibbs returning to the franchise at the same time, in the winter of 2004, he was looking for as many "true Redskins" as possible. He found one in Thrash.

"I think it was awesome for the Redskins to pursue me last year," Thrash said. "To be able to come back here where I started was a great opportunity."

In 11 games this season, Thrash has 13 catches for 153 yards. Perhaps his most memorable catch came in Week 2 against Dallas when he helped convert a 4th-and-2 to keep a late drive alive.

The biggest moment of his Redskins career may have been in 1999 when he took a kickoff back for a 95-yard TD at Detroit.

Now in his ninth NFL season, Thrash knows he has to work harder to keep in top form. The wide receiver has become something of a gym rat and has become a co-owner of a fitness facility. He became a certified conditioning specialist during the 2003 offseason by the National Strength Professionals Association (NSPA). That's a distinction to which he is especially proud.

His love of working with children also inspired him to go into a business venture with another old friend. Former Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason has teamed with Thrash to form M.A.S.E Training, a program that focuses on strength and speed training as well as offering spiritual counseling.

They recently held a camp with former Redskins Ken Harvey and Tre Johnson. Says Thrash, a father of two young children: "To have the opportunity to have that kind of influence on kids is awesome."

Said Jacobs: "James is a role model as a football player, a father and everything else that he's involved with. You can't help but feel blessed to be around him."

That's the kind of respect Thrash has earned throughout his nine-year NFL career. That's why Gibbs likes to call him one of his "true Redskins."

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