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Adam Carriker brings a strong presence to Redskins' defense

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By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 25, 2010; 1:11 AM

In a locker room of muscle, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett says there's one guy who stands out. "He's unbelievable," Haslett said. "He's probably the strongest guy on our team."

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He's not referring to Brian Orakpo, LaRon Landry, Andre Carter or even Phillip Daniels, who has been known to enter power-lifting competitions in the offseason.

"I told Adam that this offseason, I'm going to get him in a competition with me," Daniels said of his fellow defensive lineman, Adam Carriker.

When the Redskins acquired Carriker this past April in a trade with the St. Louis Rams - their opponent Sunday - Coach Mike Shanahan knew he was getting a big lineman that he hoped would fit well in the team's new 3-4 defensive scheme.

"I didn't know he was that strong," Shanahan said. "I knew he was big, but I did not know he was that powerful. You see him in the weight room and take 165-pound dumbbells in each hand and he's doing workouts with them. I'm trying to squat one of them."

He'd use bigger dumbbells, Carriker says, but that's the heaviest the Redskins have in their weight room. Carriker can bench 500 pounds - about 40 more than Daniels - and through two games already has shown how that brute strength translates to the playing field.

"This is the strongest that I've ever been," Carriker said.

When Redskins coaches decided to convert to a 3-4 front - three linemen, four linebackers - several square pegs from the existing roster were forced into round holes on the playing field. But when they sought out Carriker, who was playing in St. Louis's 4-3 defense, they were able to put a big lineman back to a more comfortable position.

Playing left end for the Redskins, Carriker, 26, who stands 6 feet 6 and weighs 315 pounds, has been able to take on double teams, help stuff the run and open up lanes for linebackers. After sitting out all of 2009 with injuries, Carriker has been perhaps the brightest spot on the defensive line.

"He's what you look for in a 3-4 defensive end," Shanahan said. "He's big, strong, and powerful and plays his gap. I'm really happy the way he's played and the way he's handled himself since he has been here."

Carriker came to the Redskins as somewhat of a question mark. He was in a 3-4 defense at the University of Nebraska and was the 13th selection in the 2007 draft. He played under Haslett with the Rams, but St. Louis ran a 4-3 and Carriker was never a perfect fit. He started 31 games in three seasons, registering a pair of sacks and 85 tackles, playing mostly nose guard and as a three-technique defensive tackle.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist called him a bust one day after he was traded to Washington and said Carriker was one of "the most obvious reminders of why the Rams are in this sorry predicament in the first place."


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