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O'HARA: Washington drawn to Lions' attacking scheme

Cornelius Washington has a chance to renew an old college friendship at Georgia with Matthew Stafford – and perhaps rehash a professional confrontation – as a new member of the Detroit Lions' defensive line.

Washington, who has signed with the Lions as a free agent, laughed Friday in recounting how sacking Stafford last year while playing for the Chicago Bears was one of the highlights of his first four pro seasons.

Washington dumped Stafford for a nine-yard loss in the fourth quarter of the Bears' 17-14 win over the Lions in Game 4 at Soldier Field.

"He has always been a person I wanted to get one on since I came into the league," Washington said in a conference-call interview. "It was a very exciting time for me. I'm glad it happened."

View photos of DL Cornelius Washington.

Did he say anything to Stafford?

"No," Washington said. "He didn't give me a chance."

Washington wants more chances to get to quarterbacks, and the Lions were an attractive landing spot for him because of their attacking scheme, Washington said. He had three sacks in four seasons with the Bears, playing primarily defensive end.

"I know how they run their defense," Washington said. "I just felt like it was a good place, a good fit for me – someplace I could come in and have real good production.

"Their 4-3 scheme, it's blow and go. We play the run on the way to the pass. That's what I like about it. It's straight ahead. It's all go. No slowdown."

Washington and Stafford were teammates at Georgia for the 2008 season. It was Washington's freshman year and the third and last season for Stafford, who left for the NFL and was drafted first overall by the Lions in 2009.

Washington remembers Stafford as a big man on Georgia's campus.

"I got to spend some time with him," Washington said. "He's a good guy, obviously one of the best quarterbacks ever to come through Georgia. The arm he has is still legendary there, and his picture's all over the place."

Washington is still carving his niche since entering the NFL as Chicago's sixth-round draft pick.

Washington is a remarkable athlete. At the NFL Combine in 2013, at 265 pounds he was timed in 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, did 36 reps in the bench press and had a vertical jump of 39 inches.

That hasn't translated into production on the field yet. Washington played 31 of 48 games in four years, with two starts. Both were in 2016. He had one sack in 2014 and two in 2016.

Washington said he expects to drop about five pounds from his playing weight of 280 in Chicago to fit the Lions' attacking scheme better.

"I'm pretty close to where I want to be," Washington said. "Losing weight has never been a problem for me."

Washington said he got good reports on playing for the Lions from Bears teammate Willie Young, a Lion for four years (2010-13). The opportunity to play under line coach Kris Kocurek helped influence Washington's decision.

"How he (Kocurek) is going to push me, that kind of thing," Washington said. "The system being tailor made for me."

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