- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

What happens when you go on injured reserve? I’ve been asked that question over and over by those outside the Redskins family, and I don’t blame them. It’s a good question.

Most of the time, people just want to know how I stay involved. Well, differently than the rest of the guys.

I spend the majority of my day receiving treatment from our all-star cast of trainers in the training room. Instead of doing secondary drills with the defensive backs, I work on my range of motion.

I won’t “bust a grape” in the game this weekend, but I can still try and lend a hand to the rest of the guys with other methods.

A busted-up knee doesn’t prevent me from studying the game. I’ve been able to grasp the concept of watching and learning the key aspects of game film from our coaches this year. I’ve always watched it, but I’ve never been able to really grasp the concept until now, which is a true testament to our coaches.

This is how I stay involved with our guys. I watch film during the week and create my own scouting report of the opponent’s passing game which, with the permission of the coaches, I give to all of our defensive backs. Mainly, I concentrate on the third-down passing game because if you were to ask any defensive back, this is where we make our money.

I’ve started to see things on film based on formations, wide receiver splits and personnel that I never even noticed before. Our whole defense has. I just lend a helping hand to the understanding of the tendencies that our guys already know. I’ve never seen a group of guys who are so educated about the game. Smart players make good players.

I’m sure some people think our guys just show up and play the game on Sunday, and I’m sure some might be able to, but the production just wouldn’t be there without the study habits. Again, it stems from the top. When coaches work as hard as they do, the players follow. It’s a cool thing to see.

As a player, the more you know, the better you play. Kind of like, the better you look in your uniform, the better you play.

Trust me, writing a scouting report doesn’t replace the feeling you get being in that defensive huddle. I would have given anything to be on the field with those guys in Sunday’s 31-7 win over the Giants. It was a game we needed. It was a great win, and I wanted to be a part of it. I was, just in a different way.

I’ve always believed football to be the ultimate team sport. There are no “me” guys around here. Everyone helps each other out, whether on the field or off.

That’s what true “teams” are. You can’t be an individual and succeed in this game. You always need your teammates, sometimes in ways people on the outside will never know.

Staff writer David Elfin collaborates with Redskins safety Matt Bowen on this column. It appears every Wednesday. If you have any questions for Matt, e-mail them to bowencolumn@aol.com.

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