- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Over the past three years, Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston took turns starting for the Washington Redskins.

But entering their contract years, the defensive tackles take on new roles this season: backups to newly signed All-Pro Albert Haynesworth and entrenched regular Cornelius Griffin.

Golston, the starter in 2006 and last season, has no qualms about returning to a lesser role.

“If I worry about all that stuff, I would waste a year of my career,” said the 26-year-old married father of two. “I’m not worried about who’s getting the reps. What I need to worry about is making the most of the reps I get. I want to play good football whether it’s 10 reps or 50 reps.”

Montgomery, the starter during the Redskins’ playoff season of 2007, hasn’t been so sanguine.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it from time to time,” Montgomery said. “Where exactly am I going to fit in? How much playing time am I going to get?”

Still, the 25-year-old Montgomery, who became a husband and father in the past year, vowed to handle his reduced role better than he did when he lost his job to Golston last summer.

“I spent most of training camp [sulking],” Montgomery said. “I was focusing on me. … ‘Why am I not playing?’ When I got in the game I wasn’t ready. I was only getting eight or nine snaps a game, and they were some of the worst snaps I’ve ever played.”

Montgomery played poorly in the season-opening loss to the New York Giants, prompting defensive coordinator Greg Blache to appeal to him to step it up in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.

The results were no better.

“I went out there and stunk it up,” Montgomery said. “I felt like I let him down, like I let myself down and my family down.”

By Week 4, he knew he had to change or risk getting supplanted as the top backup.

“I just said, ‘Forget it. I’m not going to worry about [not] being a starter. I’m not going to worry about my reps,’ ” he recalled. “I knew I couldn’t put this bad film out.”

That attitude adjustment helped Montgomery realize that the Redskins were better off with Haynesworth than without him, something Golston never questioned.

“Albert is a dominant force in the middle, an All-Pro guy, a guy you have to account for,” Golston said. “The guy is also a student of the game. He has a boatload of knowledge about what offensive linemen do. He’s figured out what he does well and perfected those things. He’s really come in and become one of the guys.”

The coaches appreciate how Montgomery, who will make $1.01 million this year, and Golston, who will make $1.54 million, have handled the placement of Haynesworth in the starting lineup.

“They’re professionals,” Blache said. “A big part of being a professional is handling whatever role is thrown at you. I think they’d be kind of [stupid] if they couldn’t figure out the guy we just paid $100 million to is going to play. They’ve handled it well. … Kedric has gotten better and better. He and Monty have had excellent camps. They’re much better football players than they were last year.”

Neither the quick 6-foot-4, 300-pound Golston (four tackles and one hurry this preseason) nor the massive 6-6, 320-pound Montgomery (one tackle) have made an obvious impact so far this year.

But then, the value of defensive tackles rarely can be measured by individual numbers. Haynesworth, for example, was a tremendous force Saturday in the Redskins’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers even though he did not crack the stat sheet.

“They’re guys that like to grab some yardage away from the offense,” coach Jim Zorn said of Golston and Montgomery, players he called vital parts of a defense that ranked fourth last season. “They’re disrupters. I call ‘em perpetrators.”

Disruptive on the field, perhaps, but not when it comes to complaining about not being starters.

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