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From Sean Taylor to the fans, Washington will always mean something special to Andre Carter

12.07.11 at 9:38 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bring up his days in the nation’s capital, and Andre Carter – like he did on Wednesday – shines his sincere smile and has nothing but good things to say.

Even when the tragedy of a former teammate is broached.

Carter was in his second season of six-year, $30 million deal with the Redskins when 24-year-old Sean Taylor was gunned down in his Miami home and eventually died on Nov. 27, 2007. That season will always be with Carter, as the Patriots defensive end acknowledged Wednesday.

“Definitely, the 2007 season in regards to Sean Taylor and playing hard for him, that was by far one of the best moments,” Carter said. “We outplayed the Cowboys the last game of the season. We beat them by 21 points and Sean’s number was 21 so that was definitely a memorable experience that will always be cherished forever.”

Thanks to Carter and his teammates, the Redskins beat the Cowboys, 27-6, concluding a four-game winning streak that began after they lost to the Bills, 17-16, the game after Taylor’s death. That day, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had no free safety on the opening snap, putting 10 men on the field to start the game in a tribute to Taylor.

“That was also special, too. It took a lot of guts to do that,” Carter said. “But hey, that’s one thing about Gregg Williams, he’s definitely hard-nosed and people think he’s misunderstood but he loved Sean Taylor the way we loved him and why not do one last play for him.”

That win over the Cowboys put the Redskins in the playoffs in 2007. They would lose in Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, the last time the Redskins have appeared in the postseason.

“Unfortunately, they haven’t been successful,” Carter said of Washington woes under the likes of head coaches Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan. “But the fans, in general, have held on and definitely have faith in trying to turn that particular organization around. I’ve been glad and blessed to meet some of the greats, and actually was with some of the greats, especially Joe Gibbs. It’s just an amazing franchise. Hopefully, in due time, that organization will turn around because it was a great place to play in, holding 100,000-plus fans. It can get loud when things are really rolling.”

This year, the Redskins are struggling again, at 4-8 through 12 games. They do have the ninth-ranked pass defense in the NFL, giving up just over 200 yards per game. They are getting to the quarterback.

Shanahan, who released Carter in March before the sixth and final year of his deal, heaped a bunch of praise on 11-year NFL veteran in his conference call with New England media on Wednesday.

“He wanted an opportunity to go some place,” Shanahan said of the 32-year-old Carter. “We had talked about his ability to rush the quarterback and we were running a 3-4 defensive scheme and [using] him more as an outside linebacker. And we knew we couldn’€™t pay him what he was making, but we knew there would be somebody out there that would pay him what he deserved or at least what we thought he deserved and we weren’€™t sure, so we let him go just because he was such a class guy. Obviously, he landed in a great organization and he’€™s doing a great job for them.”

In his first year with the Redskins, he had 56 total tackles and six sacks. He started to blossom in 2007, with 55 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He also had a safety in a 34-3 win over the Detroit Lions. Carter’s best season in Washington was in 2009 when he had 11 sacks. Shanahan changed Washington’s 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme which required Carter to play outside linebacker, just like he did in his final year in San Francisco.

In turn, Carter thanked Shanahan for letting him go so he could sign a one-year deal worth up to $2.75 million with the Patriots in early August.

“Just in regards to last year, I played more of the linebacker type position in the 3-4 and I covered a lot more during that time last year,” Carter said. “Now, it’s just more of a defensive end, putting your hand in the dirt and rock-and-roll. That’s just something I did years prior. But, two years out of my career, we did have the position change where we did do the 3-4. I did it my fifth year in San Francisco and I did it in my 10th year in Washington. It makes you a better player. You’re optimistic, you learn from it and just try to grow from there.”

Read More: Andre Carter, Gregg Williams, Joe Gibbs, New England Patriots
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