Great news for Redskins fans: NT Maake Kemoeatu is apparently healthy and his recovery from a devastating knee injury that cost him all of 2009 has gone very well. [Read it.] So well, in fact, that the Redskins recently sent the team's strength and conditioning coach, Ray Wright, to Hawaii to help Kemoeatu finish up his pre-training camp work.
For the Redskins it is almost impossible to overstate how important this is. I've written for months that Kemoeatu, though his signing drew little attention from the media and most fans, could be a critical part of a successful defense. Unlike disgruntled DL Albert Haynesworth, Kemoeatu is a real nose tackle, huge, squat and accustomed to taking on multiple blockers. He was a good interior lineman with the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers, but the Redskins got him on the cheap because he missed all of last season.
If Kemoeatu is healthy, he, not Haynesworth, will be the starting nose tackle for the Redskins. Haynesworth will play defensive end in the 3-4 defense, a much better position for him and one he will bitch about much less frequenly. This will allow Haynesworth to play nose tackle only on obvious passing downs, when Kemoeatu, who is strictly a run-stuffing space eater, comes out of the game.
We didn't know if Kemoeatu would be able to play this role because of his health, but if reports that he is in good shape and ready to play in 2010 are accurate, the Redskins defense just got a big boost. Not only will Haynesworth be a happier camper, but Washington will be able to put a big and formidable defensive line on the field at all times. What's more, their pass-rushing attack on third downs should be among the league's best. Great news indeed.
Speaking of Haynesworth, his first meeting with new Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett last January was a disaster, with both men emerging with a poor view of the other. They're stuck with each other, though, and Haynesworth reportedly wants to have a better year than he did in 2009, when even he acknowledges his play slipped from its previous level. Read it.
Meanwhile, beat reporter Jason Reid twitters thusly: