- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 22, 2005

Renaldo Wynn has recorded more than 60 tackles or three sacks in only one of his nine NFL seasons. But the left end’s importance to Washington’s fifth-ranked defense can’t be measured in statistics.

“It’s like an automobile,” explained Redskins defensive line coach Greg Blache. “You see the hood ornament and all the fancy stuff. You never see the inner workings that make it run. Renaldo’s the engine, one of those guys inside that makes it work.”

Nine Redskins have more solo tackles than the eight tallied by Wynn, who has gone 11 games without a sack. But those who have played with the 31-year-old Wynn appreciate that he makes them better.

“You won’t see any flashiness, no real big plays with Renaldo, but he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be and do his job to the best of his ability,” said ex-Redskins linebacker Antonio Pierce, who signed with the New York Giants in March after leading Washington in tackles. “I made a lot of tackles last year because I could trust Renaldo to fill his gap. I would flow over the top and make a play.”

Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, usually not one to gush about a player, raved about Wynn’s smarts, character and leadership.

“If I had to pick one word that would [describe] Renaldo it would be ‘professional,’ ” Williams said. “He’s about the team. I really can’t say enough good things about him.”

Wynn, who came to Washington from Jacksonville in 2002, will start his team-leading 54th consecutive game tomorrow against San Francisco. Linebackers LaVar Arrington and Lemar Marshall are the only other players left from the 2002 Redskins defense, but Arrington is a little-used backup now just as Marshall was then.

Of the 17 Redskins defensive linemen from 2002 and 2003, only Wynn remains.

“I’ve always been a survivor,” Wynn said. “I’m from a family of West Virginia coal miners. My grandfather lost a leg and a couple of fingers that got caught in a conveyor belt. He ended up dying of black lung disease, but he got out of West Virginia after he was disabled because he didn’t want his son to have that type of life.”

So Whit Wynn moved to Chicago. His son John had a son who was quite an athlete, but one with that same coal miner’s mentality.

“Renaldo comes every day with his hard hat and his lunch pail,” linebacker Marcus Washington said. “You know you’re going to get a good day’s work out of Renaldo.”

And Wynn had his own obstacles to overcome.

“My high school wasn’t a football powerhouse,” Wynn said. “We were last in the league. People always told me, ‘Go to a small school. You’re not going to play at Notre Dame or Michigan. They’ve got too many top guys.’ Then when I was part of the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation at Notre Dame, I had three high school All-Americans and three upperclassmen at my position. I redshirted my first year, but I played a little bit as a sophomore and from then on, I started.”

Wynn boosted his NFL stock and his weight by sticking around as a grad student after earning his sociology degree. He was drafted 21st overall by Jacksonville in 1997. Midway through his rookie year, he was starting at defensive tackle for the playoff-bound Jaguars. He was a lineup fixture over the next four seasons before Jacksonville’s salary cap problems sent him looking for a new home.

“Coming to Washington, I felt there wouldn’t be a revolving door, but obviously that didn’t happen,” said Wynn, who marvels at being the lone survivor of those 17 defensive linemen. “Each year, we would change coaches and lose seven or eight D-linemen. This is the first year that we kept most of the guys.”

And unlike Jacksonville, where the Jaguars were 18 games over .500 during his tenure, Washington has been 11 games under that mark.

“I’ve always kept a positive attitude,” Wynn said. “I’m not a complainer. I’m not a ‘what if?’ guy. I bring a lot of intangibles to the table. I transfer things well from the classroom to the field. I’m a hard worker. I provide veteran leadership. I’ve always wanted to be a guy that people can depend on.”

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