Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield would return to the sidelines in 2011, anxious to share the blocking scheme he just saw -- and even more anxious to learn what he should do. It was his first year as a nose tackle and he saw something new almost every game.

Throughout the season, Cofield would make tackles using more of his athleticism and not because he always knew how to combat certain looks.

He said that will change this season. Having a year at the position, plus a full offseason, he said should result in improved play.

“It’ll make a huge difference,” he said. “Last year, I felt like I was playing catch-up. I can already see a difference.”

Cofield spent five seasons playing defensive tackle in the Giants’ 4-3 front. But he signed with Washington after the lockout a year ago. He started every game and drew praise from the coaches, who were excited about what he could do once he learned the position.

“They actually said they heard from coaches around the league that felt like I was going to be one of the best nose tackles in the league,” Cofield said. “So it’s up to me to execute it… I expect a lot of growth this year.”

Cofield will measure his success by linebacker London Fletcher’s season. Fletcher earned a trip to Hawaii (after initially being named an alternate) and that’s what Cofield wants to see happen again.

Fletcher would be fine with that, too.

"He understands his responsibility is great," Fletcher said. "With Barry, it was just an adjustment mentally... You have to change your thought process but he did great with it."

That's because Cofield understands his role. His job isn’t to make plays -- the Redskins linemen take a lateral first step so they can occupy blockers more than get into the backfield.

To help make sure he improves, Cofield watched tape of Pittsburgh’s Casey Hampton, among others.

“He’s kind of the godfather of the nose tackle position as we play it today and he did it well,” Cofield said. “He did some things better than me and there are some things that I can do with my natural ability, with my athleticism, that I bring to the position that not a lot of other guys can do.”

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