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Teammates Want to Be Part Of Smith's Moment


By Steve Butchock

Redskins Insider

It seems every Redskin defensive player wants to be in the lineup when Bruce Smith records his record-breaking sack.

Jessie Armstead said in the preseason it would be a point of pride to be on the field when Smith records sack number 199, breaking Reggie White’s career NFL record for sacks. “Any time you get a great achievement like that, you want to be a part of it,” he said.

LaVar Arrington even said he wanted to be the first on the field to congratulate Smith when he breaks the record.

For the Redskins’ defensive linemen, it will be an additional source of pride because they feed off each other when rushing the passer. As a group, they acknowledge that they haven’t applied the kind of pressure that they had hoped to on a consistent basis this year. But they are a tight-knit group nonetheless—especially when the topic comes to Smith’s record.

This weekend, Smith will have a second opportunity to surpass White. He tied the record with a half-sack of Brian Griese two weeks at Miami. Last week, he was held without a sack against Saints’ fleet-footed quarterback Aaron Brooks.

On Sunday, Smith will face an injury-depleted offensive line and New York Giants’ quarterback Kerry Collins, who Smith has already sacked four times in his Hall of Fame career.

On pass-rushing downs in recent weeks, Peppi Zellner has lined up on the inside of Smith as a defensive tackle. In the Seattle game, when Smith recorded sack number 197.5 on Matt Hasselbeck (Tim’s brother), Zellner, in his first year as a Redskin, also applied pressure on the sack.

Seconds prior to Seattle center Robbie Toback snapping the ball, Smith leaned toward Zellner, telling him to move further inside. Smith had recognized a weakness in how Seattle had lined up and knew how best to take advantage.

At the snap, Smith burst through the offense’s blocking scheme to sack Hasselbeck. In a sense, two knowledgeable veterans—Smith and Zellner—executed to make a great play.

Just as important as the sack, the play showed Zellner’s selfless role on the Redskins this year. The 6-5, 262-pound defensive lineman out of Fort Valley State has seen action in every Redskins game this season and has recorded 18 tackles and one sack on the season.

“We all know Bruce needs one more sack,” Zellner said. “Milestones are a part of the game and players are aware of them.

“I want to be in there when it happens,” he added. “For him to get the all-time sack record, and for me to be a part of it in some way, that would be amazing.”

Smith has alternated at right end with Regan Upshaw for parts of this season. During pass-rush downs, Upshaw occasionally plays left end with Smith at right end. Zellner and Renaldo Wynn are usually the tackles in pass-rush downs, depending on game situations.

“Bruce was one of my idols growing up, so you know I want to be on the field when [he breaks the records],” Upshaw said. “Even if I’m not, I’ll probably run out onto the field to hug him.”

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