Whisper Room (SE)

Our NFL scout, who watched Washington play three times this summer and who works for a team that will face the Redskins later this season, is impressed with the Redskins' defense. Here's what he thinks.

''The health of Daryl Gardener will determine a lot. He was playing at an awfully high level and I think they're just being smart with him. Bruce can still rush the passer, but when you watch the tape he's almost better off as just a nickel rusher. Otis Leverette could be that guy who replaces him against the run, but he's not ready for prime time yet.

''What they're doing with Big Daddy is having him be a two-down, two-gap tackle. But he still has the quickness to penetrate. With LaVar and Ladairis, they have versatility. Jessie and Jeremiah aren't great blitzers, but they have range and instincts. They'll loop Ladairis or LaVar with the blitz. Some of the safeties will blitz. They have three corners to play as good a man-to-man coverage as you'll find. They've got plenty of cover corners to work off the zone blitz. But they don't have an every down pass rusher. But if they have a line of Big Daddy, Gardener and Bruce, then Jackson makes a great fourth person.

''To Jackson's credit, he's physical enough and has enough motor. You won't knock him around, so you'll get some run plays out of him. But he's just not ready to play against the Chris Samuels of the world every down. His ability to rush from the left or the right reminds me of players like Cornelius Bennett in Buffalo. Guys who were successful because they could rush from the right or left side. If you have LaVar coming from one side and Jackson from the other, who do you protect?

''LaVar has to be a stand-up rusher and he has to blitz. He has more quickness than sheer speed. His speed is good but it's not great. Big tackles that he would face will punch you and then your speed is negated. I haven't seen enough of LaVar to tell me that he can do it as an end. When I first saw him I thought he'd be a blend of Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas, but he isn't. But you don't want him getting picked up by a back.

''Jeremiah and Jessie are both on a mission to prove people wrong. Jeremiah is more of a run stopper and Jessie impressed me. He was running around as good as he has in years past. But you don't want both of them on the field at the same time against good passing teams. Jeremiah looks a little heavy to me, but he's still great between the tackles and he plays with great emotion. They have a lot of outstanding guys and they play with a ton of emotion and that usually makes for a big defensive year.

''I'd attack Bruce and Daryl on the ground. I wouldn't run at Big Daddy and Jackson will be hidden. Carl Powell has played well. But those are ham-and-egg guys: they don't shed well, but they have enough body to get it done.

''The Achilles' heel could be the special teams. Conway is never a guy who will let you sleep soundly at night and they have good special teams guys who are good but not great. The special teams is just so-so.''

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