- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Marcus Washington could be forgiven for taking it a little easy.

The strong-side linebacker more than justified the six-year, $22.5million contract the Washington Redskins gave him in March by producing the best season of his career and serving as the team’s lone representative in the Pro Bowl.

Relaxing, however, isn’t Washington’s nature.

“You can’t slow down,” the 27-year-old Washington said. “That’s close to stopping. You’ve got to keep going.”

And Washington always seems to be going. Just three days after having a cyst removed from the base of his spine, Washington was one of a handful of veterans who watched rookie minicamp the last weekend of April.

When the coaches suggested during June’s veteran minicamp that Washington was a little behind in his conditioning because of the mandatory time off after surgery, he remained at Redskin Park to work out while his teammates started their summer vacations.

The other afternoon, when training camp was sluggish as it gets during two-a-days, Washington was chest-bumping teammates and running around like a kid who has just finished school for the year.

“I like my guys to look at me and say, ‘Marcus is out there hitting and going. That’s what we want to do,’” Washington said.

“There are so many other guys that want to be where we are. We’re very privileged to be doing what we do. Sometimes guys take it for granted. I don’t. You have to take every day for what it’s worth and leave it all on the field.”

That Washington does.

Left end Renaldo Wynn recalled the reaction of some New York players during the final minute of the Giants’ victory over the Redskins on Sept.19.

It had been a frustrating afternoon for the defense, which stopped the Giants on 12 of 13 third downs only to see the Redskins lose because of seven turnovers by the offense. Washington made a career-high 14 tackles, including 10 solos.

“A lot of those guys on the Giants were like, ‘No.53, man! What’s his deal?’” Wynn said. “I said, ‘This dude is full-speed.’ Even when they were kneeling the ball, he’s still coming. Marcus only has one speed, even in practice. He just loves the game.”

That attitude, along with his athletic ability — Washington produced the most quarterback pressures (11), second-most tackles (130) and third-most sacks (4) on the NFL’s No.3 defense last year — prompted Joe Gibbs to say he has never seen a more “consummate pro.”

This from a man who coached guys like Art Monk and Darrell Green for 12 years each.

Washington has the bubbly personality the introspective Monk lacked, and by the nature of his position he’s more involved in the physical intensity than Green was at cornerback.

Like Monk and Green, both renowned for their relentless work habits, Washington is never satisfied he has it made. While many players spout the pablum about having to improve in all aspects, Washington quickly admits pass coverage still doesn’t come naturally to him five years after he made the switch from defensive end, his position at Auburn.

“I have to prove to myself that last year wasn’t luck, that I just didn’t fall into something,” said Washington, a good but not great player during his four years with the Indianapolis Colts before coming to the Redskins in March 2004. “It’s easy to get on top, but it’s tough to stay there.

“I don’t want to be an Ickey Woods. I want to be a Jerry Rice, a Junior Seau, guys that do it year after year. Those are the guys you try to model yourselves after.”

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