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Defensive Tackles Were Solid in Win Over Ravens

By Gary Fitzgerald


When defensive tackle Brandon Noble went down with a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 16, the defensive line—particularly at the two tackle spots—was suddenly under increased scrutiny. Who among a group of veterans short on starting experience and a collection of young backups would emerge to replace Noble?

Even though Saturday’s 24-3 win over Baltimore was only a pre-season game, players on the interior of the defensive line turned in an encouraging performance.

The Redskins held Ravens’ running back Jamal Lewis to four yards on five carries and limited Baltimore’s overall rushing attack to only 35 yards. The defense registered four sacks—including three by the defensive tackles—and applied consistent pressure on Ravens’ quarterback Kyle Boller. The rookie seemed rattled on several occasions.

Defensive tackles Jermaine Haley and Bernard Holsey started the game and played the bulk of the first half, with Haley moving over to play the nose tackle spot in place of Noble. Peppi Zellner, James Cannida, Greg Scott, Delbert Cowsette and recent acquisition Martin Chase were a part of the rotation.

— Zellner, who is lining up at both tackle and end spots, recorded a key third-down sack of Boller in the first quarter.

— Chase, who had practiced only one day with the Redskins following a mid-week trade with the New Orleans Saints, registered a sack of QB Chris Redman, and momentarily knocked the ball from Redman’s hands, in the third quarter.

— Cannida recorded another sack of Redman in the fourth quarter.

Equally as important, the front four kept the Ravens’ offensive line occupied and allowed the Redskins’ linebackers to be disruptive and make plays. LaVar Arrington had four tackles and was seemingly all over the field. Jessie Armstead added three tackles of his own.

“The front line did their job holding their gaps, holding the double teams, and also grabbing the linemen so they couldn’t get on us,” said middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.

Added Arrington: “The defensive line really stepped up. They kept the offensive linemen off of us. We were all downhill. When we’re running downhill, it’s going to be hard for teams to move the ball on us.”

Defensive coordinator George Edwards, who was given the only game ball by head coach Steve Spurrier following Saturday night's win over Baltimore, is hoping for more of the same once the regular season starts.

“The guys we have at tackle are a group of journeymen who are working their butts off,” he said earlier this preseason. “Our job is to get them lined up and get the most out of them.”

Last week, vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said the team would continue to evaluate defensive linemen who are available via a trade or as free agents following cut-down day.

“We feel like we can play with the people that we have, but if there’s somebody out there who can upgrade us, we’re going to make a move,” Cerrato said.

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