Five Questions with: Eddie Mason

Linebacker Eddie Mason proved his worth on special teams last year in the season opener, when San Diego returned a kick for a touchdown. And Mason was at home because the Redskins had cut him. Now he's back and he couldn't be happier with what he sees happening in Washington.

Q: How different is the atmospher and do you find it refreshing?

A: That's a great word. It is refreshing. It's really a family-type atmosphere where people can come in and be motivated. I'm excited every day that I get up. I've been in some systems where you get up in the morning and I'm like, 'Man, I have to go to practice.' It's not a conducive environment to come in and work. This year with coach Spurrier and coach Lewis and the moves they've made as an organization . . . It's been a blessing.

Q: What are they doing that makes it that way?

A: They're teachers. That's what they are. Even in the meeting room they correct mistakes, but it's not in a way where they're trying to down a person.

Q: What makes the difference between positive and negative?

A: You keep making the same mistakes over and over again and, yeah, you'll get grilled. With this staff they teach it so well and they're so thorough in what they do that they make it easier for us to learn. If we do make a mistake they give positive criticism. They're always trying to coach you in a way that keeps you in a learning mode and helps you to retain what we're learning and to perform on the field. We have fun.

Q: Will special teams be about the same philosophically, considering you have the same coach (Mike Stock)?

A: Yeah I think so; that was Stock's deal. He knows what he's doing. The bottom line is I'm sure he'll make some adjustments. You can't do the same thing he did last year. He's smart enough to make the adjustments and I'm sure we have a foundation for strategy. But I'm pretty sure we'll gameplan and do some different things.

Q: You have depth at linebacker, which often equates with success on special teams. Why is that?

A: Because of the size, the speed and the power. Nothing against defensive backs, but if you've got teams running wedges you'd much rather have a guy that has some size and speed who can take that hit. You don't want to be putting a guy who weighs 180 to take on wedges for 17 weeks. There's a few of them who can do that, but you don't want to keep asking them to do that. You want some guys with size and speed to cover the kicks and take on those blockers and get off those blockers and make plays. A linebacker is taught to hit and escape and get off blocks and make plays. That's why they excel on special teams. That's the X factor.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers, and Pro Football Weekly.

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