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With a rash of injures on the Redskins defense, Gregg Williams must decide whether or not to apply the high-risk pressure that is his trademark, and usually the perfect approach to defending Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe.
With a rash of injures on the Redskins defense, Gregg Williams must decide whether or not to apply the high-risk pressure that is his trademark, and usually the perfect approach to defending Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe. (AP)

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By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005

On the face of it, Gregg Williams's aggressive defensive style would seem to be the perfect approach to defending against Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Williams attacks from all angles, favoring dizzying combinations of man and zone blitzes, while Bledsoe is an immobile pocket passer who tends to hold onto the ball until the last second before releasing, a quirk that often results in big plays downfield or momentum-crushing sacks.

"He's my kind of quarterback," said Redskins strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington. "He doesn't move a lot, so you know where he's going to be. It's like military strategy. If we know where you are, we can come and get you."

But in a snowy practice yesterday, it remained unclear just how many defensive weapons Williams will have and what the condition is of the ones who will play Sunday. A day after leaving practice early, linebacker LaVar Arrington did not practice yesterday, and had no comment on his status. Cornerback Shawn Springs was indoors, riding an exercise bicycle, "getting ready for Sunday and the Cowboys," he said. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn did not practice, smiling cryptically when it ended.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss my status. I'm on lockdown, gagged," he said. "But you can bet I'll be there Sunday."

Backup cornerback Walt Harris was outside in the snow as teammates practiced, but without pads.

The result is an intriguing reunion between Bledsoe and Williams, who were quarterback and head coach in Buffalo during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Washington, Wynn and other members of the Redskins defense relish the opportunity to go after Bledsoe, and Williams must decide whether, as short-handed as it appears he will be, to apply the high-risk pressure that is his trademark.

"I will never discuss our game plan," Williams said. "Anyone who wants to see our game plan should come to the game."

Bledsoe, meanwhile, will have ample opportunity to attack the corners of the Redskins defense either underneath with tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, or downfield with deep-threat receiver Terry Glenn. It was in the first meeting between the two teams, on Sept. 19, that Glenn burned Springs and Sean Taylor on a 70-yard flea flicker. Williams has a healthy respect for Bledsoe's ability to find deep man matchups and exploit the cornerback.

"They were able to capitalize on a couple of one-on-one situations and Drew is as good as anybody in the National Football League at making those kind of tight throws," Williams said. "He was very effective."

Bledsoe is hot. He was named NFC player of the week after throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's 31-28 win over Kansas City. Still, he was sacked four times.

"You have to pressure him," Springs said. "The more time you give him, the better he is. If you let him sit back there, he'll hurt you."

In their first meeting, a 14-13 Redskins win, the Cowboys scored only three points in the fourth quarter, an apparent indicator that Williams's defense held Bledsoe in check. But the statistics in that game did not paint a clear picture. At the half, the Cowboys had scored only three points. Bledsoe was 4 for 12 in a desperate fourth quarter, but 5 for 7 in the third quarter, when the Cowboys scored a touchdown.


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