All posts in downtime


downtime for everyone

(photo by Brian Murphy)

We wanted to take a moment for those individuals who may be new to the neighborhood to let them know about one of the newest features we’ve been running on the site over the last two months.

If you click on the “downtime” link on the right side of the page you’ll be able to check out all of the offseason interviews we’ve conducted with members of the Washington Redskins. We’re still not sure why these guys actually answer the phone when we call them, but never question a good thing, right?

Here’s a quick recap of everyone we’ve talked to since the Super Bowl:

Defensive end Andre Carter checked in with us back in early February to chat about his newly restructured contract, vacationing in Las Vegas and how he incorporates mixed martial arts into his offseason regiment.

Long before the local newspapers were talking about his possible return, defensive lineman Phillip Daniels told us he fully expected to return to play for the Redskins next season. Daniels also spoke about rehabbing from a season-ending injury and the recent release of friend/teammate Marcus Washington.

Next we caught up with defensive lineman Demetric Evans right after he signed with the San Francisco 49ers, who surprised us by informing us the Redskins basically told his agent “thanks, but no thanks” in regards to re-signing Evans. While Demetric was excited about the next chapter in his life, he also made sure to thank ‘Skins fans for their love and support during his time in D.C.

It only took four interviews, but we finally moved away from interviewing defensive linemen. Who better to move on to than Homer McFanboy favorite safety Chris “The Predator” Horton? We checked in with Horton on St. Patties Day to see how he spent his first offseason as a professional football player and got his reaction to the Redskins’ free agent acquisitions.

The most unique and fascinating interview of the series came from running back Ladell Betts, who took time out of his schedule to chat with us about participating in NFL’s business classes. Other than learning the do’s and don’ts of real estate, Betts has kept a low profile since the season ended, but that didn’t stop him from telling us the Redskins don’t need Jay Cutler. Be sure to check out both parts of the Betts interview.

Finally, we caught up with center Casey Rabach, who was in the process of moving into his newly built home in Wisconsin. Rabach talked about his personal experience trying to block Albert Haynesworth, the return of Derrick Dockery and why Jason Campbell is the only quarterback Washington needs.

And just know that as long as guys keep humoring us and returning our phone calls we’ll continue to post them here for the fans.


mighty casey at the bat

(photo by Brian Murphy)

There’s nothing glamorous about the lifestyle of an offensive lineman. While quarterbacks bask in the spotlight, a good chunk of any team’s fanbase is incapable of even naming all five starting offensive linemen. But that’s okay. Guys like Washington Redskins center Casey Rabach don’t mind it at all. We caught up with Rabach over the weekend to see what he’s been up to since last season ended.

So Casey, did you do anything special with your offseason?

“Actually, we just built a new house and had most of our time taken up by moving in and finalizing all that stuff,” Rabach said. “We were pretty busy.”

Where’s the new house?

“Back in Wisconsin,” he said.

So you spent most of your time back home?

“We try to stay back there as much as we can,” Rabach said. “Any time we get a break from football we’re back there. My daughter is in preschool now, so we try to keep her in that here too. It’s a lot of jumping back and forth.”

You get to do any ice fishing or anything fun like that?

“Yeah, I took the kids a couple times and did a little snowmobiling with them too,” he said. “Mainly I just tried to hang out with the family, with the kids and stuff.”

Does it feel odd not having all the weekly aches and pains you have to suffer through during the NFL season?

“It doesn’t seem weird, it seems nice not having all of that going on,” Rabach said. “Some days are worse than others obviously during the season. Some times you feel great and other times … not so much. I’m just preparing my body to take that beating again next fall.”

Mentally are you back into the swing of things now with the offseason workouts and the draft right around the corner?

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I think we’ve been back at it for two weeks now, so it hasn’t been that long, but the first week is always the toughest one as you start working on someone else’s schedule instead of working on your own. It’s just habit now. After nine years it comes pretty easy now to get back into the swing of things because you’re doing the same thing year after year.”

You’ve been with the Redskins long enough now that these active offseasons shouldn’t surprise you anymore, so let us ask – what was your reaction when the team signed defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth?

“I like it a lot that I don’t have to line up against him on Sundays, but at camp and work during the week my job obviously got a lot tougher,” Rabach said. “I think he’s a good signing for us. He was the top free agent in this year’s class and a guy that year after year has proven to be a dominant player in the league. Those are always good players to have on your team, you know. Obviously the money surprised everybody, what he signed for. But Mr. Snyder likes to spend some money in the offseason, so for him to come here wasn’t a huge surprise.”

If memory serves us, you’ve played against him before. What’s it like to line up against “Fat Albert?”

“He’s good, there’s no doubt” he said. “He wasn’t your typical defensive lineman, in Tennessee at least, where he kept to a gap and maintained his gap and let others make plays. He made it seem like he was trying to make plays no matter where it was and gap integrity was kind of a second thought. He’s a guy who, for as big as he is, is a pretty good athlete and has got a motor on him.”

The Redskins defense in recent years has been very good in many areas, but getting turnovers hasn’t really been one of them. What did you think about the team’s decision to re-sign cornerback DeAngelo Hall?

“I think that’s one of the main reasons why they ended up signing him was because of that,” Rabach said. “His time here last season was kind of like an interview process almost to see what he’s all about after Atlanta and Oakland. He proved to be very good in man-to-man coverage and obviously got very lucky being able to sign a contract like that in back-to-back years, but good for him.”

Out of all of the acquisitions, we’re willing to guess you were happiest about the return of guard Derrick Dockery. What’d you think of that move?

“You know what, I love Dock,” he said. “He’s a good guy. He’s a good football player, but he’s a really good guy. He’s a guy that works hard, he’s really humble, but he works his tail off. He got paid when he went to Buffalo but he was still humble, soft spoken and willing to get goofed on and all that stuff. It’s really comfortable having him back on the left side.”

He was a guy you didn’t want to lose, but no one could fault him for taking that ridiculous payday from Buffalo, right?

“Yeah, exactly,” Rabach said. “You can’t get mad at a guy leaving for that kind of money, that’s for sure. Obviously we didn’t want him to leave because he was part of our line and everything, but when you get a shot at money like that you’ve got to go.”

You guys started the season 6-2 and everything seemed right in the world. But as we all know, things unraveled in the second half and the team stumbled to 2-6 down the stretch. Having had some time to sit down and think about everything, what the hell happened?

“I would say injuries and we just ran out of steam,” he said. “I think guys got tired and the injury bug bit us a little bit here and there and we just did not play up to our potential like we did those first eight games of the season. When we weren’t playing our best football we were losing to teams like Cincinnati, St. Louis and San Francisco, which were surprise losses. When you don’t play, that’s what happens.”

One of the things running back Ladell Betts said to us last week was that maybe your confidence took a little hit as well. When things weren’t going well in the first half of the season, you guys were able to adjust and keep on rolling, but in the second half if something went wrong it was almost like “here we go again.” Do you think that’s accurate?

“I think that’s accurate, definitely,” Rabach said. “Clinton [Portis] got nicked up a little bit, so we decided to rely on the passing game a little bit more. Also, the offensive line got banged up a little and the running game struggled. Did we start second guessing everything? Yeah, I’m sure there was a lot of that going on. As players we just need to go out week after week no matter who is lining up beside you and just play football. I think that got away from us in the second half of the season.”

You mentioned the passing game, so let us ask you – do you think Jason Campbell is definitely the guy who can and ultimately will take this team to where we all want to see it go?

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Last year was Jason’s first full season as a starter. You could see, especially in the first half of the season, he was taking more of a leadership role. He was a lot more confident, not only in himself, but in the players around him. This being his second year in this offensive system, I think will pay huge dividends for him. He’s been in a lot of different systems just with Washington and having two years to work with [Jim] Zorn coaching him in this system, I think he’s going to grow by leaps and bounds this year.”

We don’t think the average fan realizes just how important continuity is. Having the same system year in and year out and not having to learn a whole new offense every other year provides a quarterback with a huge advantage, right?

“Everybody says quarterback is the hardest position on the football field,” Rabach said. “He gets a lot of glory when we’re playing good and takes a lot of blame when we’re not doing so good. Right or wrong, that’s how it happens. It’s tough for a guy to not only learn a new system but to also be coached a completely different way whether we’re talking about Coach Zorn or Billy Lazor or Al Saunders, who are all totally different. You have to adjust to that and there’s a lot of pressure. People don’t really understand what goes into that, but like I said, I expect big things from Jason this year.”

The other hot topic this offseason is the offensive line. Since you’re a part of it we wanted to ask for your thoughts when you hear critics say the line needs to be blown up and completely overhauled.

“It gets pretty comical at times because those same people loved us when the offense was doing fine last year,” he said. “But if one of us has a bad game they jump all over us and end up contradicting themselves. Any time you struggle or have a poor rushing effort we obviously take it to heart and we blame ourselves first and foremost. I think another year in Coach Zorn’s system will be huge for us as well.

“We were in Coach [Joe] Gibbs’ system where we’d just go out and manhandle guys week in and week out as he kept calling for runs because he really understood where our best assets were,” Rabach continued. “I think last year Coach Zorn was still learning where our best strengths and biggest weaknesses were. This year it will show how far he’s come just by how he calls our offense and how he dictates our play. It’ll show that he understands us more and that we’re all a lot more comfortable in this system. Can we use more depth? We can always use more depth. There’s injuries in this league all the time and it’s rare when an offensive line that starts the first week is able to start all 16 games. I know there’s a huge right tackle controversy this offseason with Jon Jansen and Stephon Heyer. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do as far as the draft or anything else with free agency before we get started with the season. Can Jon still do it? Can Stephon do it? I think we’ll get those answers pretty quickly once we get going.”

We know football is a business, but Jansen is also a good friend of yours. How’s he taking all of this?

“He’s working hard, he really is,” Rabach said. “He is a really good friend, but I do understand this is a business and no matter what happens I wouldn’t talk bad about someone on the team – good, bad or indifferent. We need better play out of the right side of our line as a whole this season and that’s what we all expect.”

One final question – what can we expect from the Redskins offense this year?

“I think we’re going to open it up a little bit more,” he said. “I think we’re going to be a very dominant team in the running game. We’re very capable of doing that. We’ll continue to see Jason Campbell’s progression and his growth in this offense is going to lead him to be the quarterback everyone wants him to be and hopefully we’re going to win some games this year.”


finishing up with betts

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Yesterday we ran part one of our exclusive interview with Washington Redskins running back Ladell Betts in which he talked about how he’s spent his offseason and his plans for life after football. Here is part two where we chatted about the team’s free agent acquisitions, how Betts views himself and those pesky quarterback rumors swirling around town these days. Enjoy.

The team was also able to bring back cornerback DeAngelo Hall. What are your thoughts on having him around for a few more years?

“You know, that one didn’t surprise me as much,” Betts said. “I kind of had a feeling that we would try to keep DeAngelo, especially after the way he played once he got here. I mean, I don’t know what happened, as far as when he got out in Oakland, that’s not really for me to dig into. But I think he was a pleasant surprise when he got out here. He meshed well with the team, everybody got along well with him and he immediately created turnovers. That’s something that the defensive coaches and the head coaches were looking for, so it wasn’t a surprise to me that we would try to keep him – especially with him being so young.”

Even Randy Moss didn’t look like Randy Moss when he was in Oakland, so we’re not going overboard trying to analyze Hall’s time with the Raiders.

“Everybody has things like that that happen,” he said. “And sometimes things happen for a reason. He’s a hometown guy anyway, so like I said, it didn’t surprise me that we kept him.”

The other guy the ‘Skins brought back was offensive lineman Derrick Dockery, who you obviously know well. What’s it like to see him return to town?

“I tell you what, that was probably one of the guys I was most glad to see come back,” Betts said. “I was sad to see him go in the first place. Being a running back, he was one of the guys who always paved the holes and he helped me – or I guess we helped each other – to get new contracts back in 2006. It was good to see Big Dock make his way back to the city and just from talking to him since he got back, I think he missed being here.”

We’ve talked to some of your teammates recently and tried to figure it out, but no one really has a good answer. What the hell happened to you guys to make you finish the season 2-6?

“I think it’s a series of things,” Betts said. “There’s really no excuse for it, but we had injuries take place. I really think that was the biggest thing, injuries caught up with us and we just weren’t playing with the same level of confidence. I think once you drop a few games here and there, you get into tough ballgames and people sometimes tend to look at it and say, ‘Oh no, here we go again’ as opposed to the first eight games if something happened nobody even blinked. We kept fighting through and pushed through to get those close games. In the end it didn’t work out that way. We got banged up a little bit, but that happens to every team. We just didn’t finish the same way we started. There ain’t no excuse for it, it’s just something that happened.”

We talked earlier about your decision a couple years back to re-sign here and stay in Washington. Do you see yourself as a guy who could go to another city and be the feature back or are you more comfortable here backing up someone like Clinton Portis?

“I think I definitely have the capabilities to go somewhere else and be the guy if I needed to,” he said. “But at the time, I wanted to come back here basically because I’ve always enjoyed this city and I’ve always enjoyed the fans and playing for this franchise. Clinton and I have never had a problem getting along and I’ve always envisioned myself being a part of the offense if I did come back, which it did and didn’t work out. I think last year it was beginning to manifest itself, as far as me being a part of the offense again up until I got hurt. I was playing quite a bit until I got hurt and then it was all down hill as I was trying to get back and trying to fight through the pain. I wasn’t the same player when I came back.”

We’ve told you before we really like the idea of utilizing you and Clinton in the backfield at the same time to keep defenses on their heels. Any chance we’ll see more of that this year?

“You never know,” Betts said. “I haven’t talked to Coach Zorn about that yet, so I don’t know what they have in the works. I think that’s definitely a possibility because when we were both healthy they tried to sprinkle it in at the beginning of the season. It even got to the point where they were giving me series of my own, a couple series a game. It was working out well for me up until I got hurt. I had a good average going, I was catching balls and was running the ball well. Unfortunately I had the injury about midway through.”

The hot topic these days is Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, with fans jumping up and down begging their respective teams to make a play for him. So let us ask you, do you believe Jason Campbell is the real deal? Can he get this franchise to where we all want it to be?

“I think so,” he said. “I think he showed it during the string of the first eight games with us going 6-2. Jason played lights out. They were doing features on him, talking about him on SportsCenter about how he wasn’t turning the ball over and whatnot. He’s shown the capabilities, but along with the rest of the team, we just didn’t play at the same level in the second half. I think if he can pick that up where he left off, as far as the first half of the season and bring that into this year, he’ll play solid football. He’s our quarterback and I think D.C. will be proud of him.”

So you’re saying we don’t need Cutler or any of those other names out there?

“Nah, I don’t think so,” Betts said. “Guys are good in certain systems … I’m not saying Cutler is a system quarterback, but you can’t just assume that someone is just going to go somewhere else and automatically put up numbers and be better than somebody else. I mean, that’s an unknown situation. There’s no way anybody can say that with certainty. I think we’re just fine with Jason as our quarterback.”

[Editor’s note: Dear Redskins front office, please read Betts’ last answer over and over until it sinks in. Just because a guy like Jason Taylor excelled in one town in one system does not mean he automatically will play at a Pro Bowl level in Washington. Please write this down or at least refer to Ladell before mortgaging away future draft picks and cap space. Thanks.]


catching up with betts

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Washington Redskins running back Ladell Betts is not your stereotypical NFL player. While most fans might think of football players as nothing more than flashy young millionaires “making it rain” at their choice of gentlemen’s club, Betts is busy setting himself up for success after he hangs up the cleats. We caught up with the eighth-year pro to see what he’s been up to and were surprised with his answers. Here’s part one of our interview.

How was your summer vacation? Did you do anything exciting during your time off?

“Nah, I didn’t do anything too exciting,” he said. “I went down to Puerto Vallarta for a little bit, but other than that I just kind of kicked back and relaxed. I went up to Wharton too, for the Business Management and Entrepreneurship Program.”

Is that an NFL program?

“Yeah, the NFL puts it on,” Betts said. “They have them at different schools. They have one at Stanford, one at Northwestern University and one at Harvard, and I did the one at Wharton.”

Tell us a little bit about that. If we remember correctly, Renaldo Wynn and some other Redskins players have participated in that program in the past.

“Well, they teach you about different business management opportunities,” he said. “The one I did at Wharton has a heavy emphasis on real estate. It’s like a crash course, basically. You go there for four days from like eight in the morning until like seven at night and then you go back for more later, which I’m about to go back and do in a week or so. They teach you about the do’s and don’ts – what to look for and what to be leery of. How to approach things, how to read financial statements and everything. It’s a good course.”

You hear horror stories about folks making one bad business decision and getting taken for all their money, so it’s cool that the NFL is trying to set you guys up for better success, right?

“Yeah, that’s basically what they’re doing,” Betts said. “It’s a good idea and I’m glad I went. I was a little hesitant about going because I’ve never been fond of school, but I’m glad I went. It’s been pretty fun to go.”

Do you call Virginia home these days? Do you stay in the area during the offseason?

“I do. I do,” he said. “I’ve been living here since I got in the NFL. I bought my house my second year in the league and this has pretty much been home for me ever since.”

We know you had the chance to explore free agency a couple years ago and decided to stay here, but it’s nice to know you consider this area home now.

“I think the D.C. market, just as far as the people and the opportunities, as far as business and stuff away from football – life after football – I think D.C. is one of the hardest markets to walk away from,” Betts said. “There’s not very many places in the United States that have this kind of diversity and business opportunities. There’s so many different people you can network with and I just think it’s a good opportunity for me.”

We hate to state the obvious here, but you know you’re still young, right? You’re only 29 and you’re already sitting here planning life after football.

“I am young, but the thing about football is I think too many guys don’t approach it that way and then the next thing you know your name isn’t on the back of that jersey anymore and now you’re out in the real world and you haven’t made any contacts and you haven’t really tried to establish yourself outside of football,” he said. “For most of us, we’ve been doing this since pee wee league through elementary or junior high or whatever. We don’t know much else other than football. At some point in time you’ve got to branch out and try to make that transition smoother, and that’s all I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to retire from football, I’m just trying to make it so when that day does come I’m not out in the dark wondering what I’m going to do now.”

That brings up an interesting question – what would you be doing with your life if you never made it to the NFL?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Betts said. “That’s a tough question to ask because, for me, football has always been there. I think from every step of the way since high school … you know, for most of us, if you’re a stand out player in high school you probably envisioned yourself going to college and being a stand out football player. When that happens, you just automatically jump to thinking about the NFL. I never really envisioned myself doing anything other than playing football, so I think that’s why over the last couple years I’ve tried to wrap my mind around what I’m going to do after football. That’s what I pretty much have tried to focus on in the offseason.”

Other than a quick trip to Mexico and some business classes you haven’t done anything exciting with your time off?

“Yeah, that’s really about it,” he said. “I have a daughter that lives in Chicago, so I’m back and forth between here and there a lot so I can spend as much time with her as I can, but she’s in school so she can’t really come out here until school’s out for the summer. I travel back and forth for her so I can try and spend as much time with her as I can, but other than that, I just try to kick back and relax. Football is such a grind and you’ve got injuries and your body is sore. A lot of times guys just want to kick back and relax. Maybe take a trip here or there, but mainly you just want to relax.”

Who from the team do you keep in touch with during the offseason?

“Not too many guys,” Betts said. “I keep in touch with Rock [Cartwright], but I think that’s probably about it. It’s not really by design or anything, but I think once you get to the NFL and you’re like me going into your eighth season, most of the guys I came in with or are my age, they’ve got lives of their own. Most guys have families – you know, wives, kids and all – or live other places, so they all go off and do their own thing. Rock just happens to be one of the guys I’ve been pretty close with since I’ve been here and I keep in touch with, but other than that, I think most of the guys just go their own way.”

Like you said, you’ve been here a while. Does anything surprise you anymore when it comes to the Redskins and their free agency habits?

(Laughs). “I was surprised that we did get [Albert] Haynesworth,” he said. “Word on the street was that the asking price was going to be pretty large, so I didn’t know if we were in the market for that kind of player, but it’s a pleasant surprise. I’m glad we did. I’m fortunate enough to be able to turn on the TV on Sundays after our games and see the damage he did to other teams. Hopefully he can bring that intensity out here.”

Obviously he’s a game changer, but what does Albert Haynesworth bring to the table?

“First of all, he’s going to take up blocks,” Betts said. “That’s not a guy you’re going to take out one-on-one. He’s going to draw double teams and teams are literally going to have to gameplan for him because of his size, his stature and his level of play. He’ll be able to create matchup problems for other guys and hopefully free up some other guys off the edge and free up some linebackers. At the same time, he can do his damage as well, as far as making a push up the middle and not allow quarterbacks to step up. He’ll just crash that pocket and wreak havoc in the trenches.”

So wait, you’re telling me Ladell Betts can’t just drop his shoulder and level a guy like Albert Haynesworth?

(Laughs). “You know, of course, I like to think I can, but now I don’t have to worry about doing it,” he said.

Check back with us tomorrow for part two of our interview with Ladell Betts.


return of the predator

(photo by Brian Murphy)

It’s no secret that players love their downtime. Some choose to spend their offseason spoiling themselves with exotic vacations to remote locations. Others find any excuse to hang with teammates. Washington Redskins safety Chris “The Predator” Horton opted to spend his first offseason in a more low-key fashion – catching up with loved ones.

We tracked down everyone’s favorite safety Monday afternoon after Horton completed his first day of the Redskins’ offseason conditioning program.

How tough was it to head back to Redskins Park after having a nice, long break?

“It was different, but exciting,” Horton said. “It’s just another chance to hang out with your buddies. It’s a good thing to do, as far as working out, so you’re all on the same schedule rather than being at home while your friends are at work all the time.”

Okay, be honest, how much did you worry about keeping in shape and eating right during your offseason?

“It was somewhat important, but I didn’t go to the extreme with it,” he said. “I know I’ve got some time to continue to get into shape and be ready to go when camp and the season roll around.”

How did you spend your summer vacation?

“I didn’t really do too much exciting stuff,” Horton said. “I just hung out with the family for a couple weeks and then went out to L.A. and hung out with my girl. You know, I didn’t really do too much. I just kept it easy.”

You’re family is in New Orleans, right?

“Yes,” he said.

So was it was nice head back and get some home-cooked meals?

“Yeah, definitely,” Horton said. “You can’t beat that. Going home and every night, there’s some food that’s going to be on the stove that I haven’t had in I don’t know how long. Just getting the chance to go home and, you know, see everyone is always good.”

Are you trying to tell us your mom’s home cooking is better than anything you eat with your bachelor lifestyle in Ashburn?

(Laughs). “Oh, definitely,” he said.

Okay, you’ve had some time to think about it – what the hell happened during the final eight games of last season? How did this team go from 6-2 to 2-6 seemingly overnight?

“Oh, man, I wish I could tell you,” Horton said. “I guess it was more of a case of not being able to finish it, everyone not being on the same page and those kind of things because I really don’t know what went wrong. You know, I still want to know what happened.”

This is your first offseason with the team and you’re learning that things are rarely quiet at Redskins Park this time of year. What was your reaction when you found out Albert Haynesworth is now your teammate?

“I was excited to get there and see him,” he said. “Everyone said he’s a big guy, so when I finally saw him and looked at him, I realized they’re right – he’s a really big dude. I’m excited to have him be a part of the Washington Redskins because I know what type of player he is.”

What can he do to help a player like you out on that defense?

“Any time you get a guy like that, you know for a fact that he’s going to get some pressure on the quarterback,” Horton said. “Now most teams are going to have to switch it up and run to the outside just because he’s there in the middle.”

What did you think of the team bringing back DeAngelo Hall?

“It’s the exact same thing – I’m excited,” he said. “He was a guy who came in for half a season and the things he did, the way he performed and the way he helped the team, I think it’s definitely a good thing to have him back because hopefully he’s going to be able to build on that and go into next season knowing how good he can be here.”

Your rookie season has come and gone. What can ‘Skins fans expect from you this season?

“I still feel like I’ve got a lot to prove and I still feel like there’s a lot more that I can do,” Horton said. “I’m not going to dwell on what I did last year because that’s in the past. Every time you step on that field it’s like a new interview. I’ve still got to go out and show people that I can play football.”

Some folks around town say you’re solid against the run, but you need to step up your game in pass coverage. What say you?

“I gave up, maybe one touchdown the whole year when I was actually covering somebody man-to-man,” he said. “All we do is play man-to-man. There’s always going to be something everyone thinks you need to work on, but I know what I can do against the run. I know what I can do against the pass. I’m just going to continue to get better.”


evans to ‘skins fans: thank you

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Let us be perfectly clear about this – Demetric Evans wanted to remain a member of the Washington Redskins.

In fact, when we talked to the defensive lineman Thursday night he informed us that he’ll keep his house in Virginia and continue to live there during the offseason.

Had the Redskins shown any interest in the seven-year veteran, he’d still be a member of the burgundy and gold. But for whatever reason after five years of service, the team opted to move in a different direction and Evans is now a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

“You know, it’s going to be very hard to leave Washington,” said Evans, who signed a two-year, $3.8 million deal with San Francisco earlier this week. “I’ve been here five years and developed some great relationships with the players and coaches. I’m going to have to leave behind my wife, who has one more year left on her residency (with a local hospital). It’s going to be very hard, but at the same time, it’s only temporary. Times flies by and I wanted to be in a place where they wanted me.”

On a team with a lot of marquee names, you’ve always been one of the unsung heroes. You quietly showed up for work, lined up wherever they asked you to and played your heart out. We find it hard to believe the ‘Skins will be better off without a guy like you around.

“Exactly,” Evans said. “But you’re going to see me explode out there in San Fran, that’s what’s going to happen. So don’t wonder why, you know what I mean? I just want to set the record straight with the fans that supported me here in Washington and wanted to see me sign back. It wasn’t a deal where it was between Washington and San Fran. They wanted me and I took the best deal that was on the table. I just want to thank everybody for their support, for cheering and showing up at FedEx excited every Sunday. I appreciate that. I have great memories, but once again, I must move on.”

So wait … to clarify what you just said, the Redskins never even made an offer to you? Even after they released Jason Taylor?

“The Redskins told my agent before free agency even started, ‘We are not interested in Demetric. We’re going to go in a different direction,’” he said. “All the fans, all the beat writers, all the news anchors – once you saw [defensive tackle Albert] Haynesworth holding up the number 92 jersey, that should have been the writing on the wall. When Jason Taylor came to Washington, he didn’t hold up a number 99 jersey. Haynesworth could have easily held up a 09 jersey or a number 1 jersey or anything. Basically, that indicated Haynesworth is here. Demetric is not.”

That brings up an interesting point. How did it feel seeing another player holding up your number?

“It didn’t bother me and honestly, I didn’t even watch the press conference,” Evans said. “I already knew what they were going to do and I didn’t take it personally. It just shows that this is a business and ultimately, they can put whoever they want in that jersey.”

What can the fans expect to see from Demetric Evans now that you’re off to San Francisco?

“You’re going to see me burst into the NFC West,” he said. “It’s not like the NFC East. I’m not taking anything away from them, but it’s not the NFC East. You’re going to see a guy go out and be a dominant force in that division because when you think about it, they’ve got a lot of pass-happy, West Coast-type of teams. I’ll be in good weather, running around enjoying myself and having fun on the field. You know, Seattle wants to throw the ball. St. Louis wants to throw the ball. Arizona wants to throw the ball. And being in a 3-4 defense, three of the top five defenses last year were 3-4.

“All that being said, I’m going to get an opportunity to go out and compete for a starting job and do what I do best – play hard-nosed football,” Evans said. “I’m excited about going out there. I’m excited about getting a fresh start. I’m excited about being a 49er. I wish the Redskins well next season. I want to wish the best for my teammates, especially the defensive line there, because they’ve got a great group of guys. They’re great men, husbands and friends, so I just want to leave on a good note.”

With that we said goodbye to Evans and promised to check back in with him during the season. We can’t help but think that much like Antonio Pierce, Ryan Clark and others, Redskins fans will miss Evans now that he’s gone.

Contrary to popular belief in this town, you can’t build an entire team of big-name stars. To be successful in the NFL, teams need well-rounded utility players like Evans who happily fill in at any of the four defense line positions whenever called upon. The Redskins are now seriously lacking depth on the defensive line and it will be interesting to see how they address the issue and what kind of money they end up spending to fill the hole in the lineup.


phil daniels is ready for whatever

(photo by Brian Murphy)

With free agency less than a week away, we caught up with Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels over the weekend to talk about bouncing back from a season-ending injury, losing teammates to “business decisions” and his plans for life after football.

We saw an article last week that said the final two years on your contract had been voided and you’re about to be a free agent. When the heck did that happen?

(Laughs). “Really, right now I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with that too,” Daniels said. “I know I’m a free agent. I know I only had five years, of course they put those last two years on there to help the salary cap out and I restructured my deal a while back, but I’m a free agent. That’s what my agent tells me. I’m not on any of the publications or websites or whatever saying I’m a free agent, but I am.”

When did you find out that your status had changed?

“I knew that going into last season,” he said. “Even before I got hurt my agent told me that the years they had put on the end of my contract weren’t going to be … well, you never know about the Redskins. They could talk to me about keeping those years or have us look at our options. I’m not sure what’s going on right now, man. We’ll have to see what happens.”

You mentioned the injury. How’s everything coming along rehabbing back from that?

“Yeah, I feel pretty good, man,” Daniels said. “I’m already squatting over 400 lbs. I’m back into powerlifting and doing everything like that. Of course, Dr. [James] Andrews wants me to take it slow with all of the running and stuff, but I’m doing ladder drills and cuts and everything. I’m actually running pretty good on the treadmill and I’ll be back up with the Redskins this week. I guess they want to get a look at me before free agency starts and see where I’m at, but I’m really feeling great. I can’t complain, my knee is doing good. To be able to be back into powerlifting, squatting and doing the things I’m doing – it’s just amazing how quick I’ve healed.”

So where are you at these days?

“I’m near Chicago,” he said. “I’m in Vernon Hills, Illinois.”

Since the season ended have you done anything other than rehab? Any vacation time or something fun like that?

“Yeah, I went to the Pro Bowl,” Daniels said. “I went to hang out with Clinton [Portis], Mike Sellers and [Chris] Cooley. I enjoyed that. I went a week ago – I just took a little time off to go out there and support them – but other than that I’ve just been working and training. I’m just trying to get back and get ready. Of course, I’ve got five more months before camp starts, the big camp. I’ll probably end up doing some of these small camps and OTAs this summer, but right now I’m just doing like Dr. Andrews said and I’m taking it slow.

“The good thing about my injury was when I hurt it,” he continued. “It was a blessing with the timing. At the time I didn’t know that, I was just mad. But getting hurt in July gave me a whole year to be ready to go for next season. So I have a whole year, as opposed to a guy who gets hurt during the season and has like eight months to try and get back ready to play.”

It’s not a stretch for us to go ahead and say that you want to be back on the Redskins, right?

“Yeah, I’d love to be back with them,” Daniels said. “We’ll have to see. I know it’s a business and I know that they’ve told me they want me back, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I know they’ve got lots of decisions to make with other guys, but I really don’t think this team is that far from making it to a championship. I’d love to be back.”

Speaking about football being a business, the Redskins released one of your friends, linebacker Marcus Washington. Have you had a chance to talk to him yet?

“Yeah, I’ve talked to Marcus,” he said. “It’s a sad day. Marcus is one of those guys who is a great leader. He used to break down our huddles and he used to quote this movie Drumline. He’d said “one heartbeat” and everyone would say “one sound.” I was thinking to myself, that today our heartbeat is a little bit slower. He’s still going to be a good player next year and I’m pretty sure a lot of teams are going to go after him.

“I really feel like he’s probably going to end up in New Orleans,” Daniels continued. “Gregg Williams loves him, and a lot of teams could use a guy like him that goes out, plays hard and leaves it all on the field. Like I said, they have to make decisions and we just have to go with their decisions. I know it’s a business and he does too. He said it’s probably time for him to move on and, of course, he’s going to be missed by all of us. I hate to see guys who came in back in 2004 leaving. You know how I feel about those guys and how close we are. It’s just sad to see him go.”

We know everyone says it’s just a business decision, but let’s be honest – days like this suck. Seeing high character guys like Marcus Washington being shown the door doesn’t sit right with us. Elite teams always have quality leaders like Washington, right?

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “I think we lost a great character guy. The thing about the 2004 class, they can say what they want about us, but in the five years we’ve been there, we’ve had a top 10 defense four times. That’s with our offense not even ranking in the top 10 or our record being that high, so you’ve got to think about what we’ve put in there as part of this Redskins family. We had a purpose in life. We were hungry. None of us had championships and all of us wanted one. All of us still want one. Every time I talk to one of the guys from the 2004 class that’s the first thing that comes out they’re mouth, man. They say ‘I’m tired of being mediocre. I want to win a championship.’

“That’s why we were a great group and why we went out and fought hard,” Daniels said. “That’s why we were ranked in the top 10 four of those years. Hopefully I’ll be back and hopefully I can continue toward that. Greg Blache has been good to me. He brought me in from Chicago and I’ve been in his defense for nine years now. I know his defense inside and out. So we’ll see what happens. I would love to be back with the Redskins, but like I said, it’s tough when you lose guys like Marcus Washington.”

Last season the defense lacked a big-time run stopper and that’s something you’re known for. People also forget that with your long wingspan you’re routinely among the league leaders in pass deflections …

“You know, that’s one stat that they don’t keep up with,” he said. “I’ve been one of the top guys in the last four or five years in that stat. Even with the Bears I always had a bunch of deflections, batting down passes at the line of scrimmage. You know, to me, they’re just as important as a sack. I’ve had 10 of those each year, but a lot of people don’t look at that. It don’t even show up on the stat sheet, but I think it’s definitely something people should notice more.”

How hard is your situation right now – not knowing where you’ll end up next season?

“For me, it’s not that hard right now,” he said. “I’ve talked to Greg Blache and I’ve talked to Dan Snyder and both say they want me back. They also say they want me to go inside and play some tackle. Of course I can play all of the [defensive line] positions and that’s a bonus for me. I’m not really concerned about where I’ll play next year. I know I will play somewhere next year. I’m hoping it’s with the Redskins, but if it’s not, then I know someone’s going to have a great player in me and I’ll go out and work hard and play hard every time.”

During the course of our conversation Daniels also mentioned he might consider becoming an agent. Seeing as we’ve always thought he’d be a lock to get into coaching, we had to ask him about it.

An Agent? Really?

“Yeah, for me, I think I might want to get into the agent business,” he said. “So whatever team doesn’t want to give me an opportunity, they’re going to have to deal with me later.”

Seriously, we thought you’d end up as a head coach one day. You’re telling us you might pass that up to be the next Drew Rosenhaus?

(Laughs). “You know what, a lot of people want me to coach,” Daniels said. “I’ve just got to figure out which one of those I want to do. I don’t know. Being an agent, I’d still be around the sport a lot and be around guys who I can help out through tough times and deal with situations like this. But at the same time, you know my passion for football and coaching. People say I’ve got a knack for it and say that they can come to me and I help show them what to do. They say it’s kind of like I’m coaching on the field right now. I think that’s something important to bring right now. When things aren’t going good, I try to be there on the field to help them get through it. But with being an agent, I think it’s something I really want to do. I think I’m already set with that, so we’ll see.”

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