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Raiders Ready for Reunion With Big Ted

October 01, 2006|From the Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. — For Jake Grove's first two seasons in the NFL, big Ted Washington always seemed to be in his way.

At almost every practice, Grove had to block the 365-pound (or more) nose tackle, an important step in the growing process for the young Oakland Raiders center.

"Every day. I went against him every day," Grove said. "I think he's one of the better nose tackles in the league; he's certainly the biggest."

Now, he gets to do it in a game when Oakland hosts Washington's new team, the Cleveland Browns, today.

The Raiders cut Washington in the off-season to get under the salary cap and to give young players Terdell Sands and Tommy Kelly more opportunity to play.

Cleveland Coach Romeo Crennel, Washington's former defensive line coach in New England, brought him in because of his familiarity with playing the nose tackle in the 3-4 defense.

"Right now he's a coach on the field because of his experience, and we've got some young guys who are trying to learn to play the position and he's been helpful with those guys learning the technique," Crennel said. "So after his playing career is over if he decides he wants to go into coaching, I think that he'd do a good job at it."

The Raiders' immediate concern is how to block him.

Washington's size allows him to tie up two or three blockers at a time, clearing the way for his linebackers to make plays on running backs. He is nearly impossible to move out of his spot over the ball, making running up the middle an almost fruitless endeavor.

For a team averaging just 2.7 yards per carry through two games, controlling Washington will play a big role in turning those problems around.

"Of course it's a little tough to run in the middle with someone that big," Raiders running back LaMont Jordan said. "But I think we have a pretty good scheme against these guys."

Washington can be grumpy at times and rarely talks to the media. But to his former teammates on the Raiders, he was a jokester who frequently made them laugh.

Grove said he figures Washington will say something that will crack him up Sunday, so he'll try his best not to listen. Instead, he'll focus on the lessons he learned from two years of working against Washington.

"I learned a lot playing against him because he's been in this league a long time," Grove said. "It's not because he's just big. He knows what he's doing. He's a good football player. I learned a lot playing against him my first two years here. Hopefully I can use some of that against him."

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