TheHogs.net is proud to introduce THN Weekly with Andre Carter, a weekly article with the eighth-year veteran defensive end. Carter is entering his third season with the Washington Redskins and is coming off of his best season as a member of the Burgundy and Gold.
THN Weekly will preview each week’s match-up, specifically Andre’s assessment of the Redskins and their opponent’s offensive and defensive lines. Fans will be able to read Andre’s first-hand perspective of what the team does to prepare for each game and how he views each weekly opponent. With every edition of THN Weekly, there will be a question and answer session called ‘Under the Helmet.’ The answers will allow fans to get to know Andre the person as opposed to Andre the football player. -Eds.
Tonight, the Redskins find themselves in the national spotlight, having to face not only a division rival, but the defending Super Bowl Champions as well. The team will be provided an opportunity to show the country how well they have adjusted to an intriguing off-season highlighted by a change in leadership in the form of new Head Coach Jim Zorn. The task will not be easy, with an influx of youth including the full 10-man draft class of 2008 and the chore of having to beat the Giants in a notoriously raucous Giants Stadium. The team, however, is excited to start the season with a challenge.
“The team feels great and we are positive. Now it’s all about executing and performing. The NFC East is by far the [most] physical [division] in the league. So when you play New York, Philly, or the Cowboys, it’s all out or nothing. When we are participating in the mini-camps, the OTA's, and training camp, in the back of our minds we always say to ourselves: ‘Man, I can't wait for the season to start,’” Carter said.
The Redskins added a great talent this summer in the form of defensive end Jason Taylor following the loss of Phillip Daniels with a season-ending ACL injury during the first day of training camp. The trade garnered mostly positive reviews, especially from the players. One of the biggest advocates of Taylor’s arrival is Carter.
“Jason Taylor joining us will not only help us, but it will provide [an] opportunity for the rest of the defensive line [to make plays]. While Jason and I hit the edges hard on both sides, it will allow the quarterback to step into the pocket and our tackles will make plays as well as providing one-on-one match-ups for me, so it will be fun,” Carter said.
As of Wednesday night, Taylor was listed as questionable for tonight’s game due to a knee sprain suffered against the Carolina Panthers during Week 3 of the preseason. The injury added more unwanted news to an eventful preseason, which began with a 3-0 start and finished with two disappointing losses to the Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
“My impression of the team overall this preseason is positive. In preseason and in camp you work hard to perfect your game. With the wins and losses that we had in the preseason it can and can’t define you as a team. It’s a gray area that only a few will understand. However that’s the past. It’s real now,” Carter said.
With Taylor’s status uncertain, reserve Demetric Evans will likely have the chance to start at left defensive end and fluster Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who is coming off of a championship season in which he was awarded Super Bowl MVP, one year after his older brother Peyton accomplished both feats as well.
Despite his performance in the playoffs last season, Eli still has not defied all of his critics. Regardless of any criticisms, Andre still appreciates his talents.
“I respect Eli. He has a good sense of the game. [He knows] when to call the audibles, how to read the blitz, and he has a good cadence. I respect him.”
Blocking for Manning will be Shaun O’Hara, Kareem McKenzie, Rich Seubert, Chris Snee, and David Diehl, all of whom started every game last season. Having to face a group with such uniformity twice a year gives Andre plenty of chances to evaluate them and his reviews are shining.
“The Giants offensive line is a great, close-knit group. They are physical and will get after you until the whistle blows. I love playing against them because they play hard-nosed football,” Carter said.
He also added that he sees no weaknesses in that group, which provides yet another obstacle for the Redskins to overcome in order to start the season 1-0.
Despite the offensive line’s unity, the Giants went through several big changes this off-season much like the Redskins, with the losses of tight end Jeremy Shockey (traded to the New Orleans Saints), defensive end Michael Strahan (retirement), and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (season ending knee injury).
“The Giants defensive line has always been physical, no matter who they line up. That’s one thing I know. Yes, they have had some key losses but one thing I know, you can never judge a team by the names on their roster, but the heart of the players,” Carter said in regards to the losses of Strahan and Umenyiora.
“The loss of Jeremy Shockey to the New York Giants is unfortunate. However that’s football. He is a great player and was a key part of their offense. Kevin Boss is the guy now and he is physical and athletic. He is very elusive with the ball so we have to be smart on how to cover him,” Carter said.
While the Redskins face many questions as they enter the season, the Giants have their fair share of detractors, despite defeating the 18-0 New England Patriots to win the franchise’s third Super Bowl. Many believe that they just rode a wave of good luck in the playoffs and were only the best team for one day, not an entire season.
“I can’t say the Giants the team to beat. I can't say who is the team to beat because I don’t know. I know there are players and organizations that work just as hard as we do. This is a business and Sunday, or Monday, or whatever day we play will decide who the best is that day. All we can do is take one game at a time and [this week it] is the New York Giants. They are very much prepared just like us. May the best team win,” Carter said.
Andre believes that playing sound and polished football is one of the most important components to beating the Giants tonight.
“It’s important to be physical and make [the fewest] errors possible because a good team will take advantage of those errors. [We need to] play with technique and execute. [At] the end of the game, the best team will win,” Carter said.
Under the Helmet:
THN: What is your favorite gadget?
AC: My favorite gadget is the iPhone. I love it. It’s the best toy out there. I don't think it needs any explanation.
THN: Do you have any pre-game rituals? If so, what are they?
AC: The only pre-game ritual I have is reading my bible and looking at a picture of my wife and my kids. They motivate me to be the best. After that, it’s game time.
THN: What are your favorite songs to listen to on your iPod (or iPhone now)?
AC: My favorite song right now on my iPhone is “Soul Fever” by Camp Lo.