- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

Carl Powell is different.

Unlike his three fellow members of the Washington Redskins' starting defensive line and the injured tackle he's replacing for the final four games all of whom were top draft choices and immediate regulars Powell didn't have a clear path to an NFL lineup.

And where Bruce Smith, Renaldo Wynn, the injured Dan Wilkinson and even the menacing Daryl Gardener generally just go about their business on the field, Powell is constantly woofing, whooping and yapping. Whether barking at opponents or teammates, it doesn't matter to the excitable overachiever from Detroit.

Defensive line coach Ricky Hunley said the Redskins tease Powell about being from the rain forest because of the loud, bird call-like noises he makes.

"I thought those were supposed to be superhuman sounds," Wynn said with a chuckle. "Carl's got a lot of energy all the time, probably more energy than anyone I've ever seen. Carl's always talking. We'll be watching film and someone makes a play and Carl will say, 'You gotta do a dance! Oh, man, that dance is horrible! On a scale from 1-10, you're a 1.' When Carl had that sack in Dallas last week and he did his boogie dance, I thought he was on 'Soul Train.'

"Carl brings fire to the game," Wynn continued. "Even when there's a bad play, he's getting the guys going. He goes 100 percent full speed all the time. I know I can count on Carl. He might be talking too much, but I'll take him in a bar fight any time."

After recording 11 sacks as a senior defensive end at Louisville, Powell was taken 156th overall by Indianapolis in 1997. There was some thought of making him into an linebacker because he weighed just 265 pounds. Even after years in the weight room, the 6-foot-2 Powell is listed at just 273 although he claims to be 291 a figure that Wynn, for one, doesn't believe.

"Carl and I joked about his weight after Big Daddy [the 353-pound Wilkinson] went out last week," Wynn said. "I told him he needs another Thanksgiving."

Powell is thankful that he finally has a shot at some serious playing time. He made Indianapolis' roster as a rookie but didn't see any action after badly injuring an ankle. Powell was inactive with a pinched nerve in his neck in 1998 before being cut Oct.13. Powell went to NFL Europe the next spring but didn't get an invitation to a training camp that summer, spending the year inspecting telephone poles. Midway through the 2000 NFL Europe season, the Rhein Fire traded Powell to the Barcelona Dragons for a kicker.

"That was my lowest point and then I messed up my other ankle," Powell said.

Powell didn't relinquish his dream. He made Baltimore's roster in 2000 but didn't play before being waived after 11 weeks. The Fire and the Ravens both won titles, but Powell didn't get a championship ring from either team.

"You've got to admire the way Carl hung in there through all the adversity," Wynn said. "A lot of guys don't want go through that journeyman type of role."

Powell got into every game for Chicago as a run-down end last year, making 15 tackles, and he has played significantly more this year, starting Week3 for the injured Gardener and regularly rotating into the lineup otherwise. Powell's 14 tackles are just three fewer than Wilkinson had, and he has two sacks to none for his predecessor. With Wilkinson a strong candidate to be a salary cap casualty next spring and Gardener unsigned, these last four games are a serious audition for Powell.

"This is definitely an opportunity to contribute and make plays and have fun doing it," Powell said. "I have to know my assignments and play fast and hopefully we won't miss a beat. I'm relentless trying to get to the ball. That defines me. I'm an effort guy."

With his 29th birthday less than a month away, Powell said he still doesn't know where his career is headed, but Hunley likes what he has seen.

"Carl's not the most gifted athlete, but he knows his job and he does it to the best of his ability," Hunley said. "He's a blue-collar guy who does whatever it takes to get guys hyped up. His enthusiasm is infectious. You've got to love guys who love the game the way Carl does."

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