Reporting David Elfin
Leigh Torrence first signed with the 5-10 Redskins on Dec. 27, 2006. During his tenure, Washington went 15-12 including a wild card playoff defeat. Since the Redskins cut Torrence on Nov. 8, 2008 to make room for more accomplished cornerback DeAngelo Hall, they’ve gone 17-38.
Not to say that re-signing Torrence last Tuesday will be the key to turning around the Redskins, but he has had a remarkable NFL career for a guy who has started just one game over his six-plus seasons for three franchises.
Torrence, who made Atlanta’s roster as a rookie free agent in 2005, has a Super Bowl ring and has reached the playoffs three times. Other than 2006 when he was out of the league until Week 17, Torrence has never been part of a losing season.
That last fact should bode well for the Redskins, who brought back the 30-year-old cornerback/special-teamer after he spent the past three-plus years with New Orleans.
“There was a different perspective there,” Torrence said. “We always felt we had a chance to win the Super Bowl. It starts with the players holding each other accountable, all pulling in the same direction. You can’t just talk about it. You have to do it.”
Now 30, Torrence said returning to Redskins Park for the start of offseason workouts on Monday felt like a homecoming to some extent. Such once-and-again teammates as Kedric Golston, Lorenzo Alexander, Santana Moss and Reed Doughty were there along with receptionist/mother hen B.J. Blanchard and yet-to-mellow special teams coach Danny Smith. The weight room, training room and the locker room are in the same locations, but two coaching staffs and dozens of players have departed.
“Washington’s a place where I have good memories, on and off the field,” said Torrence, whose father graduated from Bishop O’Connell High and whose grandmother and aunt still live in the area. “When I had the opportunity to return to the Redskins, I didn’t hesitate.”
Torrence, who runs a foundation in his native Atlanta and has worked for civil rights activist turned Rep. John Lewis, might run for Congress himself someday. So the Stanford Academic All-American was careful when asked about the BountyGate scandal that has revolved this offseason around Gregg Williams, his defensive coordinator in Washington and New Orleans.
“I had a great experience in New Orleans,” he said. “When we won the Super Bowl, the city and the region that had been through so much took a lot from that victory. The media has made more of a huge deal of (BountyGate) than we have as players. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field again and playing the game that I love. Even in the DB room today, there was a new energy with (new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay’s coach from 2009-11). I’m excited to see what heights we’re going to be able to reach here in Washington.”
Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes and free agent signee Cedric Griffin are ahead of Torrence on the cornerback depth chart and 2011 rookie Brandyn Thompson is a factor. The Redskins might also use a third-day draft pick on that position, but given Torrence’s track record – and I’m not talking about his success as a college sprinter – they would be wise to keep him around.
David Elfin began covering sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March.