May 2, 2009

Gamble, Washington like new responsibilities

Darryl Gamble was being asked about the time this spring he saw as a standup defensive end when teammate Marcus Washington[db] stepped inside the door to the defensive team meeting room at the Butts-Mehre Building.

Like Gamble, Washington saw time on the edge for the Bulldogs during last month's G-Day game, a position both players said they expect to get some reps at this fall.

"Marcus isn't too bad," Gamble smiled, looking over his shoulder. "He might have some potential over there."

Don't get Gamble wrong. Neither linebacker is switching positions. However, when the Bulldogs employ their dime package, Gamble said their will be the occasion for either he or Gamble to be used as another pass rusher instead of an extra defensive back.

"We're probably going to use it," Gamble said. "We're playing a lot of passing teams this year, so we'll probably use instead of going into a straight dime package. Instead of having our regular defense, we'll just add an extra linebacker (Gamble or Washington)."

There is one difference fans will notice when they line up at the position next fall.

Gamble will employ a straight up-right technique, while Washington will take his stance with a hand on the ground.

"I guess this just adds to our versatility," said Washington, who was credited with three sacks in the G-Day contest. "The more versatile you are, the more you are likely to get on the field and the more likely you are to contribute to the team. It will help out with getting reps."

But most importantly, Washington added, it will help the Bulldogs get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Something he admits the team did a poor job of last year.

"We have to get a better pass rush to be successful," Washington said. "We can't let any quarterback sit in the pocket. You've got to get some kind of pass rush to keep him out of his game."

Both players appear to have adapted to their additional roles quite well.

According to Gamble, while there are certainly different techniques when it comes to footwork and hand placement, the directions he receives from coaches are really simple ones.

"Just get to the ball," Gamble said. "I enjoy being on the field any way I can. I like being that first guy that comes in when something happens."

While Gamble was approached about the position halfway through spring drills, the call to Washington came much later.

In fact, it was just a day from G-Day when Washington approached linebackers coach [db]John Jancek that he'd like to give it a try.

"I just went to Coach Jancek and said I thought I could do a good job coming off the edge as a rush end," Washington said. "He said we'll see how it goes. I liked it, he liked it."

Neither player said they will need to concern themselves with adding any extra pounds.

"I'm actually trying to lose a couple," Gamble said. "I think I played good during the spring at 248 and was moving pretty well."

Washington, who is currently listed as the No. 2 Mike linebacker behind starter Akeem Dent, believes the extra the new responsibilities will definitely benefit the team.

It's not a bad change of pace for the players, either.

"It's a little bit of extreme cross-training, something I haven't had to do before, but it hasn't been bad," Washington said. "There are some different things about it, but its fun. It's a lot of fun."

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