Behind Enemy Lines: Jeremiah Trotter

The Redskins had hoped he'd be a key player in their run defense the past two years. He wasn't, thanks to a knee injury his first year which bothered him into his second. He also wasn't a good fit in Washington, which didn't ask him to play ''downhill'' as much as the Eagles did. Now he's back in Philly. Now he' s again having an impact.

Q: How did you end up back there?

A: It's a long story, man. One thing led to another and I'm back. I never thought in a million years I'd be back. I said when I left I'd never come back. I learned never to say never.

Q: When you left the first time, it didn't go too well with you and Andy Reid. Was it hard to go back?

A: It was tough. I had to put the ego aside and move forward. I always loved it here. This is where I started and where I made All-Pro and the Pro Bowl. The fans love me here. I had great teammates. It always felt like home no matter how much I said it didn't.

Q: Was it all about money when you left?

A: No. Some of it was money. But some of it was that I felt I had given everything to the organization and I wasn't treated fairly. That's all part of the business. I took some things personal.

Q: How shocked were you that Andy wanted you back?

A: Very shocked, especially when I blew my knee out against Dallas and he called to wish me well. That meant a lot. It was an unexpected call from an unexpected person at a time when I needed it. At that point my outlook on him totally changed. This summer, I called him first and apologized for the way things went down and to thank him for calling me. I never had a chance to thank him and tell him how much that meant to me.

Q: Are you surprised you're not here?

A: A little bit surprised. Just a little bit. There were rumors about it during the season. I never read the papers but teammates would ask me about it. I wasn't worried about it. I knew during the whole season that I was 65-70 percent at best. I still ended up leading the team in tackles. I know when I'm at the top of my game I'm one of the best in the NFL. I don't believe there's anyone out there who can block me. I try to play that way week in and week out. I'm not an arrogant person but when I'm on the field I try to play with a chip on my shoulder. That's the way you have to play the game. There's no other way.

Q: Was it a mistake to rush back as quick as you did last year?

A: Who's to say it was a mistake? I'm the type of person that if I can go, I go. I don't like to leave my teammates out hanging. There were days in practice that I should have sat out but tried to push through. At the beginning of the season it hurt me a lot. But it was tough for me to see my teammates fighting and I'm on the sidelines. I've fought through pain before and that was no different.

Q: Do you have the same emotion facing the Redskins as when you faced the Eagles?

A: No. I've grown up a lot and learned to approach every game the same. I don't get too high or low. It's just another game for me. I approach it the same way, prepare the same. I fight just as hard and make as many plays as I can.

Q: Was it hard not starting at first this year? A: Oh, yeah, it was tough. Especially with the success I've had in the past and then coming back to a place where I had all that success, it was tough.

Q: Why is the run defense better with you?

A: I tried to come in and bring emotion and leadership and an aggressive attitude and also big plays, too.

Q: Was that a statement game last Sunday?

A: Without a doubt. The last time we had faced a team that well-balanced it was Pittsburgh and we weren't prepared too well. We wanted to send a message to the whole NFL that we were a championship-caliber team. When we're clicking on both sides of the ball, it's tough to beat us.

Q: Is it easy to have a let down after that kind of game when you're facing a 4-8 team?

A: No. We won't have a problem getting up for the Redskins. Any time you face someone in the division it'll be tough. They have great skill positions. Patrick Ramsey had one of the best games I've seen him play and Clinton's back on track running the ball.

Q: Have you paid attention to how Antonio Pierce has filled your old spot?

A: He's playing very well. He's in a system where they keep guys off him and he can roam around and make plays. I'm happy for him.


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