Q&A With Marcus Washington

The Pro Bowl linebacker quickly became a vital part of the Redskins' defense last season, because of his play and his leadership skills. Marcus Washington loves playing the game and knows how to play it well.

Q: How important are you to this defense?
A: I'm just a piece of the puzzle. There's a bunch of guys who step up and make big plays -- Cornelius, Matt Bowen, Shawn Springs. Backup linebackers came in and performed well. Lemar, he's really a starter now and guys like that.

Q: How tough will Antonio Pierce be to replace?
A: It'll definitely be tough. He's a heck of a leader. Everyone feels like I feel -- it's a loss having him get out of here. I wish we could have kept him. He meant a lot to us and was a big part of our defense. But we're the Redskins' defense. Someone else always finds a way to get the job done. Sometimes things don't go the way you want them to go. I know someone will step up and do well this year. Once we get into the preseason someone will solidify the position.

Q: I know you're on the outside, but how tough is it to learn to play in the middle?
A: I'm lucky because I'm a Sam. Once I get the call I'm like, ‘OK guys don't bother me.' In the middle, you're the quarterback of the defense. Everyone knows Coach Williams' defense is not the easiest one in the NFL. Not only do you have to get yourself lined up but you also have to line the defensive line up. Sometimes they don't want to cooperate so you have to slap them on the butt and get them going. It's tough doing it in a game when everything is going so fast and you're a little out of breath and you've got Sean Taylor out there not getting in the huddle and AP would have to yell at him. I take my hat off to someone who performs that job.

Q: Do you feel any different this year, like you've arrived because of the Pro Bowl?
A: I don't feel any different. I don't want to get complacent and feel like you've made it. You just want to keep doing the little things and do what got you here -- continue to work hard and be a team guy, encourage your teammates and be a leader; not only verbally, but with your actions on the field.

Q: Do you have any concerns with the secondary, with Sean's situation and Fred Smoot gone?
A: Last year, if you asked me the same question I would have been like, ‘Oooh, I don't know . . . ‘ But I go back to Garnell Wilds. The guy comes in the last game of the season against Randy Moss and does a great job. That's the kind of team we want to be known as. If one guy goes down someone else comes in and plays as good or better.

Q: What do you credit that too?
A: The coaches definitely deserve some credit but it's guys and their attitudes. I don't think anyone feels like a second-teamer around here. They know they're only a play away from being a starter. That's what's helped us be so successful.

Q: How much did that cyst on your spine scare you when it came back and is it now gone?
A: I hope so. You never know. It's one of those deals where it behaves like cancer so I don't really know if it'll come back or not. But this time I saw a specialist and feel pretty comfortable that it won't come back and he assured me he did different techniques. I'm not really worried about it. If it comes back I'll have to deal with it.

Q: How can you improve the defense?
A: A large percentage of guys felt like they needed to come in and improve on the little things. We hope to disguise things more so they don't know what we're in.

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