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Washington: He's Heading Back to Indy

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Since he was an Indianapolis Colt for the first four years of his NFL career, Marcus Washington naturally is pumped up about going back to the RCA Dome this weekend.

Sure, Washington has thought long and hard about familiar faces he'd like to see late Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis. Others, of course, he may not be so anxious to encounter.

He said in jest: "Peyton [Manning], Marvin [Harrison}, and some of those guys--maybe you really don't want to see them. Really, I'm excited about the game but at the same time you don't want to get too overly emotional about it."

The 5-0 Colts, coming off a bye week, are among the NFL's top-shelf clubs. Washington is hoping his team can come up with a bit of magic for Manning and get back on track.

"The best thing against these guys is tight coverages. You can't let Peyton sit back there and pick you apart," said Washington, a Pro Bowler in 2004, his first season with the Redskins. "The other thing is, you have to disguise your coverages. Peyton's a smart guy. You have to make it hard for him to figure you out."

How does Manning feel about Washington? The Colts' quarterback gave Washington high marks.

"Marcus and I formed a bond right away, having played against each other in college when I was at Tennessee and he was at Auburn," Manning said on Wednesday. "He was one of those guys who really helped get the Colts turned around, as far as changing our identity and the way teams perceive the Colts.

"He helped started making it where playing the Colts was not a sure-fire win. He plays the game the right way. He is always full of energy and full of enthusiasm."

Washington was on those Indy teams dominated by the trio of Manning, Harrison and running back Edgerrin James. Without James, Washington maintains, the Colts are not the same type of team he played on between 2000 and 2003.

"They're a little different without 'The Edge,'" he added. "He did a lot for that club, although now that he's gone [to Arizona], you'd have to say some of those other guys are coming into their own."

Without James, Indianapolis has turned to sixth-year running back Dominic Rhodes (79 carries, 273 yards, 3 TDs) and rookie Joseph Addai (59 carries, 269 yards, 1 TD).

Harrison has 32 catches through five games, Reggie Wayne 21. And then there's Manning, who had thrown for eight TDs and been intercepted just twice in Indy's 5-0 start.

Washington is coming off his best game of the season. He led the defense with 13 tackles in the 25-22 loss to Tennessee.

On Wednesday, Washington acknowledged how frustrating it was to get so close to picking off Vince Young last week at a crucial point in the game--only to have a possible key interception slip away.

"When you get those chances," he said, "you have to make plays. It's tough. The ball didn't like my hands, I guess, and it fell to the ground. You definitely want to make those plays when you get a chance because you never know when they're going to come again."

Since coming over the Redskins via free agency in March of 2004, Washington has emerged as one of the real leaders in the Redskins' defense.

Last year, much of the defensive attention was on LaVar Arrington's comeback attempt and on the explosive play of safety Sean Taylor. But that would all change in December.

Washington was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month. He was certainly impressive with 35 tackles, four sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries during the 5-0 march to the playoffs.

He saved his best for the Cowboys.

When the Redskins dismantled Dallas 35-7 on Week 15 at FedExField, Washington was on top of his game. Phillip Daniels (four sacks) and Chris Cooley (three TDs) earned most of the attention but Washington was not to be outdone.

In his best game of the season, Washington sacked Drew Bledsoe twice, intercepted Bledsoe once for a 41-yard return and forced a fumble as the Redskins swept Dallas for the first time since 1995.

The talented 6-3, 247-pound outside linebacker in his seventh NFL season out of Auburn would like nothing more than to come up with something along those lines this weekend in the very venue where he began to develop his NFL skills.

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