- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

Defensive end Andre Carter is a talented pianist, but he has played virtually solo on the field the past two years. When Carter led Washington with six sacks in 2006, the next Redskins player had three. Last year when Carter topped the Redskins with 10½, the most by a Washington defensive lineman in seven years, no one else had more than five.

So while Carter felt terrible when left end Phillip Daniels suffered a season-ending torn ACL on the first day of training camp, he was thrilled that the Redskins replaced Daniels hours later with Jason Taylor, whose 117 sacks rank first among active players.

Taylor turns 34 on Sept. 1, but as he showed on “Dancing With The Stars” this spring, he can boogie with the best of them. And he can still get to the quarterback. The 2006 NFL defensive player of the year recorded 11 sacks last season.

Saturday’s home preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, in which Taylor and Carter will play a few snaps, will provide the first glimpse of what could become the Redskins’ top pass rushing tandem since Dexter Manley and Charles Mann.

Marco Coleman and Bruce Smith combined for 22 sacks in 2000, but they totaled 9½ the next year before Coleman departed for Jacksonville. Manley and Mann averaged 22 sacks during their five full seasons together as starters.

“I see us having two edge rushers causing havoc,” Carter said. “It opens so many great things for me and for Jason. And it will help our inside guys, too. If the quarterback steps up to try to avoid us, [Cornelius Griffin], Demetric [Evans], Kedric [Golston] any of those guys can make the play. I’m hoping to have a lot more opportunities for one-on-one matchups. The sky’s the limit.”

That was supposed to be the case for Carter when he left the San Francisco 49ers for a six-year, $30 million deal with the Redskins in 2006. Instead, he had two sacks in his first 11 games as Washington, a playoff team in 2005, started 4-7. Carter had four sacks in the final five games and then helped the Redskins return to the playoffs in 2007 with his most productive season since 2002 when he posted a career-high 12½ sacks.

“My first year here, I was making the adjustment back from linebacker,” Carter said. “The season didn’t go well for the team, and I was putting pressure on myself until [then defensive line coach Greg] Blache told me just to let it loose. I finished strong. Last year, I fed off that and had a good year. We made the playoffs. Now I’m feeding off what I did last year.”

Taylor and Carter should feed off each other before feeding on quarterbacks.

“We’re getting more comfortable together,” Taylor said. “But you never know how it’s going to work until the games start. This can definitely be the best combination I’ve been a part of. You’ve got two quick guys off the edge that can rush the passer and collapse the pocket. We’re not the biggest guys. We’re long guys that can run.”

But can the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Carter and the 6-6, 244-pound Taylor stop the run? The 276-pound Daniels, a champion weightlifter, is stout at the point of attack. Carter and Taylor rely more on their athleticism.

“It’s easy to sit behind a desk and [criticize],” Taylor said when asked whether he and Carter could defend the run effectively against 300-pound offensive tackles.

Said Carter: “As long as my feet don’t get twisted, playing the run is not a big issue.”

Added defensive line coach John Palermo: “I feel very comfortable with both of our ends playing the run well. If you play good technique and you play hard, you’ll be fine.”

For Carter, after seven seasons with one playoff victory, being fine in 2008 goes beyond sacks.

“Sacks are great, but this is my eighth year,” the 29-year-old said. “The one thing I want is a Super Bowl ring. I can have four sacks the whole year, but if we go to the Super Bowl, that’s every man’s dream.”



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