Marcus Washington has emerged as one of the Redskins' leaders on defense. During a media session on Saturday morning, he spoke of not becoming complacent despite a Pro Bowl season last year:
Q: Coming off your Pro Bowl year, do you feel any different, as if you've arrived in the NFL?
A: "Not really. You don't ever want to get complacent and feel like you've made it. You just want to keep on doing the little things and keep on doing what you've been doing. I just want to continue to work hard and help my teammates. I want to be a leader, not only verbally but by my actions on the field."
Q: What do you feel you can do to improve on your performance last year?
A: "I just keep learning more and more about the game every day. If I can assist the middle linebacker, maybe make some calls and take some of the stress off of him, that'll help."
Q: With LaVar Arrington hurt and the middle linebacker situation uncertain, where are you fitting in Gregg Williams' scheme?
A: "Well, I'm just a piece of the puzzle. We have a bunch of guys out there who can step up and make big plays: Cornelius Griffin, Matt Bowen and Shawn Springs, guys like that. Also, some of our backup linebackers like Lemar Marshall have come in and really performed well. Lemar Marshall is really a starter now. So I'm just a piece of the puzzle."
Q: How do you see the middle linebacker job shaping up?
A: "I don't know. It's kind of up in the air right now. Clifton [Smith] has been doing a great job. Lemar Marshall knows the position. They're all doing a great job. I think once we get into the preseason, someone will solidify the position. Someone will step up. Last year, not only at linebacker but at other positions, when guys went down, someone stepped up. I remember, it was the Minnesota game when Garnell Wilds came in and covered Randy Moss. So we definitely have guys who can step up."
Q: From your view on the outside, how key is the middle linebacker position in Gregg Williams' defense? How much do you have to absorb and know?
A: "It's a tough position. I'm kind of lucky. As a SAM, once I get the call, I just tell the guys, 'I'm over here, don't bother me, I'm doing my thing.' But the middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense. Everyone knows that Coach Williams' defense isn't the easiest in the NFL. As middle linebacker, not only do you have to get yourself lined up but you have to get the defensive linemen lined up. Sometimes they don't want to cooperate, so you have to get on them and get going. The game's going so fast and you get out of breath, but you have to keep going. It's tough on the middle linebacker. I definitely take my hat off to Antonio Pierce and other guys who can perform that job."
Q: Do you have any concerns about the secondary, what with some of the changes since last season?
A: "Last year, if you asked me that question and told me about all of the injuries we were going to have, I would have said, 'I don't know.' But I always go back to Garnell Wilds. The guy came in the last game of the season and played against Randy Moss, who's definitely not a slacker at wide receiver. Garnell came in and did a great job. That's the kind of team we want to be known around the league as: if one guy goes down, someone else is going to step up and play just as good or maybe better."
Q: How bad you feel for Mike Barrow as he continues to rehab?
A: "I feel bad for him. I see him working and I know it's tough for him to watch from the sidelines. I know the amount of work at rehab. I think he's going to get back out there. I don't think he's going to give up and he's not going to feel sorry for himself. He's going to continue to work until he gets back with us."
Q: Did you see him working on the field on Friday and how close did he look to coming back?
A: "We were doing punting drills, but I did take the time to look over there and watch him. He looked pretty good. I asked him how he felt and he seemed to be in pretty good spirits. I guess only time will tell."