ASHBURN, Va. - Washington's London Fletcher says it's not difficult to name the best quarterback he's ever faced: Tom Brady.
The Redskins linebacker is speaking from experience. He has never missed a game in 14 NFL seasons, has started two Super Bowls and played in two Pro Bowls. He has dueled tremendous quarterbacks from Dan Marino to Aaron Rodgers.
"Tom Brady is better than all those guys," Fletcher said of the New England Patriots' three-time Super Bowl winner and two-time NFL MVP who visits FedEx Field for just the second time on Sunday. "Look at what he has done: three rings, all those wins. It doesn't matter who his weapons are, he just keeps rolling."
Redskins receiver Donte Stallworth was one of those weapons during New England's perfect 16-0 regular season of 2007.
"It was always easy with him controlling everything," Stallworth said. "He's always the first one there early in the morning and he's usually one of the last guys to leave. He's very smart back there, very calm in the pocket. He makes a lot of plays."
Fletcher and Stallworth weren't the only Redskins with high praise for Brady.
Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield started on the only team to beat Brady and the Patriots in a Super Bowl, the 2007 New York Giants, but he, too, raved about the man.
"You gotta hit him, you gotta harass him, you gotta bat balls, hopefully get an interception or two, maybe strip the ball," Cofield said. "He's a very tough guy. I've seen him take a lot of shots and he would pick himself up the next play and make a great throw on the very next play. The only way you can hurt Tom Brady is win."
Fletcher has only beaten Brady twice in 13 meetings. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive end Stephen Bowen have yet to do so.
"The key . is not letting him sit in the pocket," said Bowen, part of a pass rush that's tied for third in the league in sacks per attempt. "If he's able to do that, he's going to be able to tear us apart."
Brady did that when he last faced the Redskins in 2007, directing a 52-7 destruction of a defense that wound up ranked eighth and that led Washington to the playoffs.
"If he's not the greatest, he's gotta be in the top three," Haslett said. "He's poised, big, got an unbelievable arm, makes all the throws, can move enough to stay alive in the pocket, (his) leadership, understanding of the offense is outstanding. And he does it day-in and day-out."
Redskins defensive end Adam Carriker said he's looking forward to the challenge of facing one of the game's best quarterbacks for the first time.
Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo wasn't quite so sanguine about the coming matchup with Brady.
"He's a very smart quarterback," Orakpo said. "All of a sudden, he's calling out audibles. He's great in preparation, great at attacking defenses. We have to be good with our pressure. We have to be tight in our coverages. Regardless if someone's on a receiver, he's throwing as if (the defender's) not even there."
Asked how risky it is to blitz Brady, Haslett said, "It's risky to line up and play him."
Notes: Defensive end Stephen Bowen is the Redskins' winner of the Ed Block Courage Award. Bowen's son Skyler died in July, 10 days after he and twin brother Stephen III were born four months premature. Last Sunday, less than nine hours before kickoff against the New York Jets, Bowen's mother-in-law, Muriel Johnson, died at 59 of muscular dystrophy, in his Northern Virginia home. Bowen, who had torn his left PCL the previous Sunday at Seattle, started as always, although he didn't add to his career-high 4.5 sacks. . Strong safety LaRon Landry remained sidelined Thursday with the groin he injured at Seattle and is unlikely to play against New England. Newly-signed defensive lineman Chris Baker also missed a second straight day with an injured quad.
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