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Williams likely to be fired up vs. 'Skins, who spurned him after '07

ASHBURN, Va. -- Double G is coming back to D.C. And he has an axe to grind.

Gregg Williams, the fiery assistant coach who received a pink slip instead of a promotion from the Washington Redskins nearly two years ago, returns to FedEx Field on Sunday as the defensive coordinator of the unbeaten New Orleans Saints.

Players on both sides are expecting a flood of previously pent-up fury from Williams.

"He wants to win first," Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers said, "but he want to prove to this organization that he still should be here."

For four seasons, Williams and his legendary temper ran the Redskins' defense, and he believed he was ready to take over the head-coaching job after Joe Gibbs retired. Instead, Redskins owner Dan Snyder sent Williams packing and eventually opted for Jim Zorn.

"He'll be fired up to go back," Saints linebacker Scott Fujita said. "But whether they missed the boat by not hiring him or not, I don't think about those kinds of things. There are so many bad decisions made in this league from a coaching standpoint, a player standpoint, every team you see a couple of them. Maybe he would have been the best choice (to be the Redskins' coach) at the time. Maybe not, but I'm glad he's here with us."

Williams spurred the Redskins into a top-10 defensive ranking three times, although his aggressive schemes were short on turnovers: Washington ranked 25th, 32nd, 15th and 22nd, respectively, in takeaways from 2004 to 2007. Notably, his unit is leading the league with 32 in his first season with the Saints, while the Redskins are at the bottom again -- tied for last with 13.

But forget the numbers. Players don't start citing statistics when Williams' name comes up.

"When you think of Gregg," Redskins middle linebacker London Fletcher said, "you think about obviously his mouth."

The stories from the Washington locker room are too numerous to tell, and they usually start with a shake of the head and a smile. Let's start with safety Reed Doughty, who had been drafted by the Redskins minutes earlier when he first spoke to Williams on the phone: "He said, 'Are you in shape?' I said, 'Yes, sir.' He's like: 'We'll see. I'm going to make you puke.'"

Then there's defensive tackle Kedric Golston, talking about the adjustment to Williams' prolific use of four-letter words: "As a rookie, I'm like: 'Is it even legal to say that?' Then I realized we were grown men."

And cornerback Carlos Rogers, who needed a few games to crack the starting lineup as a rookie even though he was a high first-round draft pick.

"When I first got here, he cussed me out left and right," Rogers said. "My second year, he eased up off you. Some guys can take that type of coaching, and some guys can't, and with his system (if you can't), you're not going to make it. Once you establish yourself, once you start playing, you'll know that he means the best, just trying to bring the best out of you. Everyone will say that."

Indeed, the Redskins' defensive players for the most part fondly remembered Williams, having recovered from the initial shock of his abrasive style.

But it's a style that didn't appeal to everyone, and it didn't always look good from the outside. It used to be said around Redskins Park, both complimentarily and derisively, that the second "g" in Williams' first name stood for "genius" because he never failed to let everyone know how smart he was. That's hardly an ideal trait for someone angling for a high-profile job such as head coach, and it no doubt cost him in his efforts to succeed Gibbs.

Williams' only previous NFL head-coaching stint didn't go well -- 17-31 with the Buffalo Bills from 2001 to 2003 -- but his success with the Saints this season surely will make him a candidate again when openings come up during the offseason.

"What's bigger than a genius?" Saints safety Darren Sharper said. "A guru? A savant? Whatever you want to call him, he is that."

Here's another adjective that applies this Sunday: motivated. Williams has yet to address reporters this week -- he's scheduled to speak Friday -- but his feelings about the Redskins already are known.

"He's going to let it rip," Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss said. "I know Gregg. I like Gregg. Gregg is going to come out here no holds barred -- show the whole kitchen, the sink, you name it. You've got to expect it. You're going to get beat or they're going to get beat. He's going to come in here and say, 'Let's show 'em.' I accept it. I accept the challenge."

Notes: Zorn said he expects DT Albert Haynesworth to play after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. ... CB DeAngelo Hall remains unable to practice because of a sprained right knee and likely will miss his second consecutive game.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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