- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jason Taylor is getting used to playing for the Washington Redskins.

There was Taylor trying to rev up the crowd, motivate his defensive teammates and urge on the Redskins’ offense during a 29-24 comeback win over the New Orleans Saints - actions so demonstrative that several times it caught the attention of Blache, the Redskins’ defensive coordinator.

Two months after Washington acquired Taylor for two draft picks in a trade with the Miami Dolphins, the 11-year veteran gave the Redskins a hint of what could be in store with a sack, a pass deflection, solid work against the run and continuous enthusiasm in Week 2.

“Each week you see Jason settle down and become more and more of the player he’s capable of being,” Blache said. “He was more into the flow of the game. It wasn’t about him playing his position; it was about him being a part of the team. He was totally into the Redskin rhythm.”

Said Taylor: “I’m getting better. I moved around better [last week], I felt better and I had a little more pop and power.”

Taylor’s sack gave him 118 for his career, tops among active players and 14th all time. While much has been made about Taylor’s transition from right end to left end and how teams will test him with bruising running backs, the next three games are why the Redskins traded for him July 20 once veteran Phillip Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Before facing Dallas and Philadelphia, the Redskins host the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona features a pocket passer in Kurt Warner, who is expected to drop back 25 to 30 times, and a 1-2 receiver punch in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald that will give the Redskins’ secondary start-to-finish problems.

On a national scale, Taylor is the Redskins’ marquee player because of his on-field career (a league-leading 101.5 sacks this decade) and his off-field offseason (“Dancing with the Stars”). But within the walls of Redskin Park, he has become a teammate.

“Good guy; very, very, very unassuming,” Blache said. “He doesn’t look at himself as a superstar but just one of the guys. He’s very much like Reggie White when Reggie came in and everybody thought he would be like, ‘Oooh, I’m Reggie White.’ He wasn’t like that, and Jason is not like that either. He responds to his teammates and takes coaching like the rest of the guys.”

Taylor’s knowledge has been built over a 174-game career that has included six Pro Bowl selections and sacks of 63 different quarterbacks.

Teammates said Taylor didn’t waste any time asking questions when learning the defense and, most of the time, offering suggestions during meetings and even at the line of scrimmage.

“You never know what to expect, but I’m glad he’s the guy that he is,” defensive tackle Kedric Golston said. “He embraced the other leaders, and we know he wants to do what he can to help the team win.”

Golston and Cornelius Griffin flip-flop at the defensive tackle positions, and when Golston is lined up inside of Taylor, he often will hear his voice.

“Sometimes he knows what’s happening before the play starts,” Golston said. “He’ll say, ‘Golston widen out. Golston tighten up.’ He’ll tell me what he wants to do, and nine-and-a-half times out of 10, he’s right. He’s not afraid to ask questions to guys who have been here, and on the other end, he’s always giving up information about his knowledge.”

Defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander said Taylor has helped build his confidence, telling him just because he was smacked around on the last play doesn’t mean he can’t win his matchup on the next snap.

“He’s been a positive influence on all of us,” Alexander said. “During camp and the preseason games, he would help me with my alignment that would give the end and tackle a chance to get a sack - just moving into a position that the [offensive] tackle has to look over at me, and that gives Jason a chance to beat him.”

Taylor downplayed his influence on the defensive line group.

“I throw my two cents’ worth in when I can if I can help somebody out,” he said. “This is a group effort. There’s not one guy who will stand up and say, ‘Shut up.’ We’re all trying to get the same result. The more we can do to help each other out, the better we’ll be.”

In addition to a new team and new terminology, Taylor also had to adjust to left defensive end after playing many years on the right side, where he matched up against the left tackle and attacked a quarterback’s blind-side.

“It grows with time,” he said. “It’s not the scheme that’s the problem. It’s getting to know the players around you and how everybody plays together and then play off each other.”

Of course, Taylor’s transition time was stunted when he missed several practice sessions after spraining his knee against Carolina on Aug. 23.

Taylor recovered and played 55 of 69 snaps against the Giants and 43 of 54 against New Orleans. He appeared more active in the run game against the Saints and came close to several pressures of Drew Brees.

Against the Saints, it took only one play - the first snap - to see Taylor felt good at left end and had used the 10 days between games wisely. Reggie Bush was limited to a 2-yard gain when Taylor stayed engaged with Saints right tackle Jon Stinchcomb, forced Bush to cut back into the pursuit and then helped wrap him up for the tackle.

The Saints never double-teamed Taylor in the run game and only once used a chip (by Bush) to help Stinchcomb in the passing game. But he should expect some double teams if he continues to show he can control his gap regularly.

The Redskins hope Taylor’s breakout game helps them improve to 2-1 heading into NFC East games at Dallas and Philadelphia.

“From camp to now, he’s doing a lot better job of taking on double teams from the tight end and the tackle,” Alexander said. “It’s a new scheme, and he had to get acclimated to things he might not have had to necessarily do in Miami. But now? He’s looking good.”

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