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Redskins could sign Russell

By Jody Foldesy



The Washington Redskins this week could pick up a defensive tackle to fit the talented and nasty mold of Daryl Gardener last season.

The Oakland Raiders' Darrell Russell was reinstated by the NFL from a drug suspension yesterday, and Redskins sources said the club would be interested if, as expected, Oakland releases him.

Russell, the second overall selection in the 1997 draft, compiled 28½ sacks for Oakland from 1997 to 2001, including 19½ in Pro Bowl years 1998 and 1999.

But he hasn't played the past 1½ seasons while serving a suspension for testing positive for ecstasy. The suspension started out as a one-year penalty (he already missed four games that season for failing to comply with the NFL's drug policy), but it ended up being indefinite.

While suspended, Russell also was charged with drugging a woman with the "date-rape drug" GHB and then videotaping two friends raping her. Russell was charged as an accomplice for the Jan. 31, 2002, assault. However, all 25 felony charges were dropped on Sept. 12, 2002, for a lack of evidence.

Not many teams are expected to compete for the services of the controversial defensive tackle. The Redskins are believed to be interested for two reasons: he still could have the type of dominating talent that has been missing on Washington's defensive interior, and he could provide the "nasty" element that some club officials believe the team lacks.

Washington had that type of player last year in Gardener, who was named the club's most valuable player. And the Redskins got the best of both worlds while Gardener played on a one-year contract: disruptiveness on the field, but not in the locker room. The gamble by Redskins owner Dan Snyder — over the objections of other club officials — paid off handsomely.

Starting at defensive tackle for Washington this season have been Jermaine Haley, Bernard Holsey and, when Haley has been injured, Martin Chase. The interior has held up fairly well against the run but has generated little push. Last year, with Gardener and Dan Wilkinson starting at defensive tackle, quarterbacks and ballcarriers often were flushed to the outside for other Redskins to make plays.

The Redskins negotiated with Gardener before free agency opened to sign an extension but he eventually got a six-year, $33 million contract from Denver.

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