Ravens' Washington doesn't hold a grudge

OWINGS MILLS -- Fabian Washington was trapped in the black hole of Raiders Nation a year ago, engineering his escape from Oakland unintentionally as his standard of play became suspect and he was benched after three starts due to poor tackling and a loss of focus.

Washington admittedly became complacent in Oakland, allowing his concentration to waver as his pursuit of the nightlife took precedence over his time spent watching film. Replaced in the starting lineup by Stanford Routt, the former first-round draft pick became even more expendable when the Raiders acquired cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Washington completely understood Raiders owner Al Davis' decision to trade him to the Baltimore Ravens for a fourth-round draft pick this spring. So, there is no lingering grudge story line heading into Sunday's game against Oakland at M&T Bank Stadium.

Call it an acknowledgement of blame, and Washington embracing a fresh start here in Baltimore.

"I get why it happened because it was my fault, so there's no anger or bitterness," Washington said. "I put it all on me. I didn't play my best, so I'm really the main reason that I'm not there anymore.

"I played bad, so I understand why they traded me. I asked them to trade me, and I just thank them for putting me in a great situation here. I'm happy with how everything turned out."

Now, Washington is preparing to start his fourth game of the season.

He downplayed the concept of payback or motivation beyond trying to win a football game.

"It's a little extra, of course, just because they're my old team and I've got a lot of friends still there," Washington said. "But I'm still taking it as just another game. I'm preparing the same way."

Through six games, Washington hasn't been as productive or as active as he would have liked.

He has recorded eight tackles with no interceptions, missing games against the Indianapolis Colts with a dislocated right shoulder and a bulging disc in his neck against the Cleveland Browns.

Neck spasms and a hamstring injury affected Washington during the preseason, increasing his frustration.

He may need surgery on his shoulder and his neck after the season.

"Getting hurt this year is something I've never been through in all my years of playing football," Washington said. "For me to miss two games already out of six, it's killing me. Hopefully, I can finish this season out and I can take care of both of them at the end of the season.

"This is a much better situation for me. Here, you're pretty much allowed to just go out and play football. Don't worry about anything else."

That wasn't always the case in Oakland where Davis rules with a meddling, silver-and-black fist, overruling his coaching staff and scouts to make his own personnel decisions without the benefit of counsel.

"It's different, it's definitely different playing out there," said Washington, who played collegiately at Nebraska. "I'm not going to get into all that. It's just a different situation."

Arrested on a domestic battery charge in Florida that resulted in a one-game suspension without pay, Washington has made a good impression on the Ravens with his behavior since joining the team in April.

"All we know is what we've seen of him here this year," coach John Harbaugh said. "Fabian's been a real professional. Obviously, he's a very talented guy.

"He's had some of the injury thing, which we want to continue to work through, and he worked hard. He's one of the better practice corners that I've seen since I've been in the league. He really practices well, and I think that reflects in his play."

Gifted with 4.29 speed in the 40-yard dash, which is the fastest time of any player at the NFL scouting combine during the 2005 NFL draft, Washington intercepted a career-high four passes during the 2006 season.

The knock on the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has tended to be his tackling, but that has been sound for the most part with the Ravens. His worst play so far was being beaten for a touchdown by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes when he gambled and the football went past his outstretched hands in a 23-20 overtime loss.

"We thought Fabian would be our kind of player, and that's why we made the trade for him, and we're happy with all of that," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "He seems to be getting them down here. Let's hope that trend continues. Fabian is a big part of what we have here. He's done well as far as his tackling is concerned."

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