It was out of necessity, but inside linebacker Daryl Washington started as a rookie last season right away, pairing with Paris Lenon (pictured below, with No. 58 Washington) when Gerald Hayes couldn’t start the season. And by the end of the year, when Hayes fell out of favor, Washington and Lenon again were the starters.
Washington has speed. That you cannot miss. In one play earlier in camp during an 11-on-11 drill, there was a sweep to the right side. Washington, coming from the backside, was amazingly in the backfield in a flash in what would have been a tackle for loss. Drafted to ostensibly be the replacement for the departed Karlos Dansby, Washington’s physical gifts were evident.
But he certainly isn’t as big as Dansby was. That’s one of the reasons Washington felt — even though the offseason was spent away from the team facilities because of the lockout — he needed to bulk up at least a little. It’s noticeable too in the upper body, even though his playing weight has only gone from about 227 pounds last year to 230 this season.
“I put on some muscle,” Washington said. “That was the expectation for myself, actually looking like a linebacker and not just playing the linebacker position.”
(As a side note, one of the bigger concerns from the lockout was how the second-year guys — the ones who went through an offseason as rookies in 2010 — would handle themselves on their own. Most came back not only in shape, but physically built up from last year. Washington, Max Komar, Stephen Williams, Andre Roberts, O’Brien Schofield.)
For now, Washington and Lenon are running with the first unit, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see free-agent signee Stewart Bradley find his way into the strongside ILB spot (formally Hayes’ spot) and allow Lenon to become a rotational player backing up both Bradley and Washington. Washington just needs to make a normal progression from his rookie season, and changing his body was part of that. Last year, Washington said he was “too lean” and needed to gain strength. So that’s what he did.
“People have been noticing,” Washington said, “so that’s a good thing.”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Daryl Washington, Max Komar, O'Brien Schofield, Paris Lenon, Stephen Williams, Stewart Bradley
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