- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Andre Carter knows what he would do if he wasn’t a multimillionaire defensive end playing for the Washington Redskins: improve downtrodden properties and resell them.

But fixing up houses must wait; bringing down quarterbacks is the task at hand for Carter.

The Redskins signed Carter to a six-year, $30 million contract in March to shore up a weakness on a defense that hardly is a fixer-upper. The unit finished in the top 10 in the league in each of the past two seasons, a distinction held among other NFC teams only by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Still, there was room for improvement. The pass rush was weak: Only five teams in the conference recorded fewer sacks the past two seasons than the Redskins.

And if there’s anything the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Carter can do, it’s rush the passer.

Carter set a school record with 31 sacks at California and recorded 25.5 sacks in his first three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. His production was slowed by a back injury in 2004 and a switch to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme last season.

“Athletically, Andre adds a rare guy to that group because he can do things rushing the passer that we’ve needed,” said Gregg Williams, the Redskins’ assistant head coach/defense. “He’s a very dedicated, detailed worker. You’ll always see him out here way before practice getting lathered up for a walkthrough. We’re expecting big things from him.”

So much so that longtime trainer Bubba Tyer compared Carter’s athleticism to that of cornerback Darrell Green and said his dedication reminded him of Redskins great Art Monk.

Carter’s father, Rubin, was a solid defensive tackle for the Denver Broncos from 1975 to 1986 and served as an assistant in the college ranks and the NFL, including two seasons with the Redskins. He became coach at Florida A&M; in 2005.

Despite the family pedigree, Andre Carter even in his early teenage years in San Jose, Calif., never expected to reach football stardom.

“I wanted to play Pop Warner, the Little League stuff, but my dad was concerned about me getting hurt at an early age … and getting burned out,” Carter said. “He said, ‘You’ve got a lot of time. You can play through high school and develop your game from there.’ My goal was to be a basketball player, but I was more of a rebounder. When it came to shooting, all I could do was dunk and make a layup from time to time.”

The NFL didn’t become a serious option until much later.

“I didn’t realize I had the potential to become an NFL player until right after my junior year [at Cal],” Carter said. “My D-line coach, Bill Dutton, my father and my mom sat with me and said, ‘You’re getting a lot of notoriety playing defensive end.’ My goal really was to play four years, graduate and get a job.”

Carter’s No. 1 job with the Redskins is clear. The team made Renaldo Wynn, a four-year starter at left end, a backup and switched Phillip Daniels, who led the team with eight sacks last season, to the right side to accommodate Carter.

“I definitely want to be known as a dominant pass rusher,” said Carter, 27. “We can work real well together because Phil is more of a powerful guy and I’m more of a speed guy. He’s the type of guy who’ll flush that quarterback out, and I’m the type of guy who’ll hopefully get the sack and vice-versa. It’s going to be great.”

Linebacker Marcus Washington, who led the Redskins with a combined 12 sacks the past two years, agreed.

“The guy’s a specimen,” Washington said. “He’s just chiseled. Andre loves to play. His intensity is high. Andre’s a little quicker off the ball than Renaldo. He’s going to make a difference.”

And after playing linebacker for a team that went 6-26 the past two seasons, Carter is reveling in his return to his favorite position with a team that reached the second round of the playoffs last season.

“It was a rough two or three years,” Carter said. “It was a true test to your inner being. The ups and downs allowed me to grow and become a better person on and off the field. I know that after being hurt you’re never promised tomorrow, so I’m just going to let it loose and have fun.

“I’ve been counting my blessings since I signed with the Redskins. I’m very fortunate that a team, despite the ups and downs I’ve been through, saw the talent I had and believed in me. I’ll just do what they ask me to do.”

That means getting to the quarterback.

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