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Pro Bowl doesn’t soothe Samuels
Chris Samuels is happy to return to Hawaii, but the Washington Redskins left tackle didn’t exactly revel in the fourth Pro Bowl selection of his seven seasons. Not with the Redskins sure to be home in January with a losing record guaranteed after making the playoffs last year.
“It means a lot from an individual standpoint … that a lot of guys, a lot of coaches have respect for me around the league,” said Samuels, who also was selected in 2001, 2002 and 2005. “But our team goals didn’t happen, so I’m still disappointed.”
That’s not a word that anyone else at Redskin Park used to describe Samuels, a critical component in the Redskins ranking fifth in fewest sacks allowed a pass play and seventh in yards a carry. No other team in the league is in the top seven in both categories.
“Chris has had a huge year, and he’s getting rewarded, rightfully so,” running back Ladell Betts said. “He’s proven himself over the years, and he proved himself again this year. He’s aggressive. He’s tough. He’s strong. He’s athletic. You can let him pull, or he can flat-out maul guys. He can do it all.”
Fullback Mike Sellers said his teammates call the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Samuels “The Big Professional.”
Because of his faith in Samuels’ abilities, associate head coach-offense Al Saunders has left him on a proverbial island all year in pass protection.
“Chris has had to take the back side rusher by himself, and he’s done a magnificent job,” Saunders said.
Offensive line coach Joe Bugel, who nurtured young linemen Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby into four-time Pro Bowl picks from 1983 to 1986, rates Samuels among his favorites.
“The guy’s getting better each year,” Bugel said. “He’s a pleasure to coach. Chris has played with a lot of pain this year, and he’s been exceptional. He’s a real warrior. He’s made vast improvement in the run-blocking phase of the game. He’s always been a real good pass blocker, but the run game, he’s really bought into it. We run a lot to our left.”
That’s a badge of honor for Samuels.
“I watch a lot of guys around the league that are great pass-protectors, but they’re lazy in the run game,” Samuels said. “They don’t want to sprint 20 yards downfield to try blocking a safety. They just want to protect their guy on the pass rush, and that’s it. I take pride in both. I want to be physical in the run game and the pass as well.”
Samuels has adapted well to numerous changes this year as the Redskins switched offenses, quarterbacks and running backs, with the latter moves coming in November. His surgically repaired knee has given him trouble at times, but Samuels hasn’t missed a down, typical of a player who has sat out just four games in his career.
Coach Joe Gibbs praised Samuels’ leadership.
“If you hear him out there in practice, he’s always having fun and joking with somebody, kind of gets everybody going, which is a big deal, too,” Gibbs said. “The chemistry aspects of a football team are real important. You’ve got people that add something extra, and Chris is one of those.”
Among current Redskins, only right tackle Jon Jansen has played in more games for Washington (109) than Samuels’ 106.
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