Former Bears Could Play Prominent Role

Three players that started on Chicago's NFC Central champions in 2001, could do the same for the Redskins defense come Sunday: DE Phillip Daniels, CB Walt Harris and LB Warrick Holdman.

"We do it every year," Brian Urlacher said of facing former coaches or teammates. "We did it somewhat in the preseason. Buffalo had like five of our guys on that team. That's the way the NFL is now, every week it seems like we play someone with a few guys who use to be on our team.''

Probably no Redskin is more psyched for Sunday's opener against Chicago than Daniels. Not only did Daniels miss 11 of 16 games with injuries last season, including the last four, but he spent the previous four seasons with the Bears.

"To be back on the field is sweet and we're playing Chicago the first game," said Daniels, who made one of his brief returns to the lineup the week after Washington won in Chicago last Oct. 17.

The Bears waived Daniels on March 3, 2004 after he declined a $1 million cut in his guaranteed money and they rejected his counter-offer of an equal reduction in his base salary. Daniels signed with the Redskins that day.

"They wanted me to keep me as long as they could until they released me, but I was smart enough to see through it," Daniels said.

"(New Bears coach Lovie Smith) did call me at home and I respect him for that. He said, 'You're the best defensive lineman we have. What we can do [to keep you]?' I told him, 'There's nothing you can do.' It was time for me to leave. I won't hold any grudges."

Smith was strangely evasive about that conversation on Wednesday, saying only that the 32-year-old Daniels is a good player and that "it didn't work out" for him to remain with the Bears.

When together, Holdman, Urlacher and Rosevelt Colvin were among the league's best linebacker trios in the game. However, the success was short lived when Colvin left via free agency in 2003 and the Bears didn't want to pay Holdman's $4.1 salary cap slot last year.

Holdman had the chance to come back to Chicago after a one-year absence, but chose the Redskins in free agency because of what he perceived as a better opportunity. He is still currently listed as a starter at weak side linebacker, but with LaVar Arrington behind him as he recovers from a knee injury, it may only be for a short amount of time.

Harris was a first round pick by the Bears in 1996 and spent six years with the organization. At 31, he's in the twilight of his career and is trying to hold off Washington's 2005 first round pick for a starting job.

It will be interesting to see whether Harris or ninth pick overall Carlos Rogers starts at left cornerback. Assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams doesn't like starting rookies early – safety Sean Taylor came off the bench for the first two games despite a spectacular preseason last year - but Rogers had a good preseason after missing the first two weeks of camp while recovering from a badly sprained ankle.

Meanwhile, Harris, an eight-year NFL starter who was supposed to fill the vacancy created by Fred Smoot's signing with Minnesota, struggled in the preseason opener at Carolina, missed the next two games with a strained calf and wasn't a factor in the finale at Baltimore.


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