- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No Washington Redskins player was closer to Gregg Williams than London Fletcher, who ran the coach’s defense brilliantly as his middle linebacker for two years in Buffalo and last season in Washington. So Fletcher could have seethed when Williams not only wasn’t hired to replace retired Joe Gibbs last month but was fired as assistant head coach-defense.

But Fletcher took the disappointing news in stride.

“Obviously, I was close to Gregg and I’m going to miss him, but I’m looking forward to playing for [newly promoted defensive coordinator Greg Blache],” Fletcher said. “He called me right when everything first happened. The defensive coordinator and the middle linebacker have to be in sync. I’m going to have to get to know him as a coordinator, make sure I’m getting everybody to understand exactly what he wants to do. There will be some transition.”

That’s a challenge Fletcher, 32, hasn’t really faced since he left the St. Louis Rams for the Bills in 2002. But because Blache worked for four years under Williams and Washington had the eighth-ranked defense in 2007, the changes will be far from drastic.

“They made that situation as smooth as possible because everybody [except Williams] is still there,” Fletcher said. “If there was going to be change, it was very minimal. Coach Blache is his own person, so I’m sure that he’ll implement some things. He was successful as a coordinator in Chicago. I’m sure that what was successful last year he’ll continue and possibly build on that or add some new wrinkles. Our standards are extremely high, and we’re going to continue to try to live up to those standards.”

Fletcher said Williams’ hiring by the Jacksonville Jaguars as defensive coordinator helped ease the pain, too.

“Gregg landed on his feet down in Jacksonville, so I’m very happy for him,” Fletcher said. “Ultimately [Redskins owner Dan] Snyder did what he felt was best for the franchise and the football team. It could turn out to be a good thing for everybody involved, Coach Williams and the Redskins. We’re all going to miss Coach Williams, but it’s the NFL. Change happens.”

Offseason absentees

Among the players who have yet to work out at Redskin Park this offseason are defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, safeties Vernon Fox and LaRon Landry, guard Pete Kendall, offensive tackles Jon Jansen and Todd Wade and receiver Santana Moss.

Wade said yesterday the knee that bothered him last season won’t need surgery after all. He’s working out in Florida and will report to Washington next month. So will Michigan resident Jansen, who missed almost of 2007 with a broken leg and dislocated ankle.

Cornerback Shawn Springs is working out in Arizona as he does every offseason. Defensive end Phillip Daniels is preparing for a powerlifting competition. Zorn has been unable to reach Moss, but running back Clinton Portis said that he expects his pro and college teammate to be on hand next week.

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