New Players Add to Already-Strong Defense

Three-time Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, the former face of the Redskins, is gone after two tumultuous seasons under assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams. So, too, is overachieving strong safety Ryan Clark. But the rest of one of just four defenses to rank in the top 10 in 2004 and 2005 returns.

And the Redskins landed two starters early in free agency in defensive end Andre Carter and safety Adam Archuleta and may have found another in linebacker Rocky McIntosh, their second-round draft pick.

While the more athletic Archuleta replaces Clark and either McIntosh or disappointing holdover Warrick Holdman will take over for Arrington, Carter's arrival flips Phillip Daniels to left end and puts Renaldo Wynn, the defense's longest-tenured starter after four years as a Redskin, on the bench.

"We felt that Andre was a real impact player with a great motor," coach Joe Gibbs said. "(Defensive line coach) Greg Blache is real creative. He rotates a lot of guys."

But is Carter the player who recorded 12.5 sacks for the 49ers in 2002 or the one who had just 13 in the three seasons since? Some of that dropoff can be explained by Carter missing nine games in 2004 following the removal of a cyst from his sciatic nerve and by his unhappy move to outside linebacker after the 49ers switched to a 3-4 defense last year.

But unlike the last former 49er defensive starter to become a Redskin -- reigning Defensive Player of The Year Dana Stubblefield in 1998 -- Carter comes to Washington with something to prove.

So does fellow 2001 first-rounder Archuleta, who started for lousy defenses in St. Louis the past three years.

"It's a situation that breathes new life into my career," Archuleta said. "Just being a part of something special that they are building here. You get a little anxiety being the new guy. You get to know new teammates and kind of start over. I like their expectation level. The bar has been raised that much higher and so anything less is not going to be tolerated. Being a guy that they are trying to put in to help, I feel that added pressure and responsibility to not let my teammates down and to let them know that they can count on me."

Count on Williams, who brags about using 24 "packages" to keep opposing offenses off-balance and to find a way to get the most out of Carter and Archuleta.

"We want to try to stay consistent and get better," said Pro Bowl strong side linebacker Marcus Washington. "Coach Williams always says if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. We were good last year, but not good enough to win it all. We definitely have room for improvement, so we're just trying to get better."

Australian David Lonie has a decent shot at beating out incumbent punter Derrick Frost, whose numbers were deceptively solid last year due to what had to be a league-high for yards after the balls hit the ground.

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