BALTIMORE—It didn’t take long for Jason Hatcher to make his impact felt in his debut for the Redskins.
The veteran defensive end registered his first sack on Washington’s eighth defensive snap in Saturday’s 23-17 preseason loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It felt great, man,” Hatcher said. “That’s what I came here to do. It’s like a bear was lifted off my back.”
On the sack, Hatcher bull-rushed guard Marshal Yanda, knocked the three-time Pro Bowler's hands off and dropped quarterback Joe Flacco for a 12-yard loss. Hatcher was aided by tight coverage by the Redskins’ secondary.
After the game, Hatcher said he was pleased with how his left knee held up. But the 32-year-old also acknowledged that he has some rust to knock off and that he needs to get into game condition.
“I was happy I was able to come out there and get a sack, but I have a lot of stuff I need to work on,” he said. “I’m a little rusty in a lot of areas. So thank God I have two weeks to polish up and get ready for the Texans.”
Hatcher, who had a big bag of ice taped to his knee after the game, added: “The knee felt great. It held up but it got a little fatigued there down the stretch. But it’s going to get better over these next two weeks as I get back to my rehab and just focus on the small muscles and get it stronger than it was. …I need to get my wind up and work on my pad level as I get fatigued. I started playing a little high as I got tired and my knee got tired.”
Hatcher approved of the coaching staff’s game plan for him. He played every position on the Redskins’ defensive line, lining up as an end, nose tackle and at both tackle spots as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett dialed up different looks. Hatcher also drew a couple of double teams.
In all, Hatcher played 17 snaps (or 26-percent of the Redskins’ defensive plays) in his first game since having his knee scoped in late June.
“I liked it,” Hatcher said of moving around. “They’re giving me a lot of opportunities to go one-on-one with the guards. That’s what I did previously. They are going to continue to do that. I just have to do my job and get to the quarterback.”
As for facing an early double team, he added: “If I rush like I know I can, I’m going to draw some double teams. That’s where Ryan [Kerrigan] and [Brian] Orakpo can get it done.”
Coach Jay Gruden liked what he saw, too. But he also knows Hatcher must improve his conditioning head of the Redskins’ Week 1 opener in Houston.
“It was good to see him out there in a first game experience with us and it looks like he got a sack,” Gruden said. “As for a negative, he has to get in playing shape. I could see that he was a little winded out there. I think he’s a great addition to our football team. We just have to make sure that we work his butt off the next couple of weeks to get him ready for Houston."
Hatcher left Baltimore encouraged by his performance and that of the Redskins’ first team defense, which has yielded only one touchdown in parts of three preseason games.
“I think we have a lot to build on,” he said. “I think we haven’t scratched the surface. At the end of the day, it’s on us to work hard at it and be the heart the soul of the team.”