Ted Washington Finds an Opening

The Browns got a whole lot of nose tackle when they signed the Raiders' Ted Washington. The big guy has thoughts of filling the gap for Cleveland until the next nose tackle - whoever that turns out to be - is ready to step up...

Ted Washington turns 38 two weeks before the draft, so it would not be a surprise if the Browns take another nose tackle in the first three rounds. Chances are, though, the new guy will have to sit. In the first place, coach Romeo Crennel does not play rookies quickly. Even if he did, Washington is not going to let age slow him down.

"It's a tough position," Washington said. "You have guys coming at every angle. You're taking on double and triple teams. The key to it is having some linebackers that are going to back you. That's what made it easier for me throughout my career.

"Back in my Buffalo days I was averaging over 100 tackles per season. Nowadays linebackers and safeties and secondary guys come up and want to make the plays before you get them. My goal is not to just plug up the middle. I'm going to make plays too. Every opportunity I get, I'll be in on the tackle."

Washington had 47 tackles with the Raiders last season. The man he is replacing with the Browns, Jason Fisk, actually had more. Fisk had 50 tackles. There is no doubt, though, that general manager Phil Savage and Crennel consider Washington an improvement. Fisk was released one day after Washington signed.

"This is an area we talked about constantly since we got here last year, and that was to try to build a run defense," Savage said. "Ted Washington is one of the all-time great nose tackles. He's been to the Pro Bowl four times. We are very excited about having him on board with us."

Washington narrowed his choices between Cleveland and Baltimore before signing with the Browns on March 13, the third day of free agency. He said he first thought about playing for Crennel on Dec. 18 after the Browns beat the Raiders 9-7 in Oakland.

As often happens, players and coaches renew old acquaintances after a game. Washington played for the Patriots in 2003 when Crennel was the New England defensive coordinator. That one year impressed Washington enough that he knew he wanted to play for Crennel again. Crennel and Washington shook hands as they went to their separate locker rooms in Oakland.

"I told him, 'Hey, I don't know if I'm going to be here (Oakland) next year. Leave an opening there for me,'" Washington said. "We talked about it when we were in New England that if he ever became a head coach and I was still around I wanted to be a part of it."

Ethan Kelly would be Washington's backup if the Browns do not take a nose tackle in the draft.

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