The Patriots entered training camp wondering who might emerge at nose tackle – Jarvis Green, Dan Klecko, Ethan Kelley or Ken Kocher. While more than one of the four may eventually man the spot in New England, the job this year will likely fall to newly acquired behemoth Ted Washington, who the Patriots acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bears Tuesday night.
New England dealt one of its three 2004 fourth round draft choices to the Bears for the 35-year-old Washington, who will carry a salary cap value in the $1.5 million range for 2003. The 6-5, 365-pound 13th year veteran is trying to come back from the first serious injury of his career. Washington started 119 straight games before suffering a broken left fibula and torn Lis franc ligament in his left foot last season in a Week Two game at Atlanta on Sept. 15, 2002.
Before that injury, Washington started 141 of the 142 games he played from 1993-2002. He was drafted by the 49ers in the first round (25th overall) out of Louisville in 1991. He became a full-time starter in his third season and missed just five games over the next nine years. Last year, he started two games before going down and eventually being placed on injured reserve for the first time in his career.
If fully recovered, he gives the Patriots the big-time, proven nose tackle they lacked to anchor the 3-4 defense. The Patriots ranked 31st against the run last season and did not have a strong night in that category last Saturday at Washington, prompting the team to go shopping for a player who can occupy blockers in the middle of the defense.
Washington is a four-time Pro Bowler, having been selected in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001. After three seasons in San Francisco, he went to Denver for a year before playing six seasons in Buffalo. He left Buffalo in 2001 to join the Bears and was a force in the middle of a strong defense during the 2001 season in which Chicago finished 13-3.
In 12 seasons, Washington, has played in 173 games with 146 starts. He has 852 tackles, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 28 passes defensed, and 29 sacks.