ASHBURN, Va. -- The step was expected, but for Jason Hatcher it still felt good. He went through a whole practice for the first time this summer and will play against Baltimore on Saturday.
"I feel great, man," Hatcher said. "I moved great, my speed's back, my quickness is back, my strength's back."
Hatcher underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in mid-June, at the end of the Washington Redskins' minicamps. He was taken off the physically unable to perform list after the first preseason game, but had been limited in practice until now.
"Today was a shock, but lucky for me I was working really hard on my conditioning," Hatcher said. "Not to say I'm not going to be tired in a game. I know I am. I'm excited to see where my conditioning is at this Saturday.
"My main thing [today] was, as tall as I am just to play low, see if I could bend while a 300-pound man was on me and I did it with no problem."
Hatcher said his knee didn't feel sore -- and hasn't for some time. He also said he's regained his explosiveness, but expects even more.
"My quickness off the ball will be a lot better than it was last year," Hatcher said. "I can tell. I was able to rehab it real good. I got stronger overall -- upper body, lower body. I took the time to get in the weight room and get stronger."
And the Redskins are happy to have their interior pass-rusher back. Washington signed Hatcher to add pressure from the inside, something the Redskins have not had the past two seasons. Hatcher will start at right end in their base 3-4 front, but move inside in their nickel packages.
"He's another bonafide defensive lineman that can play and rush the passer and run sideline to sideline," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "Anytime you have a big man who can get after the quarterback it's a huge bonus for you. It makes our defense better. He plays with great energy, he's a great leader, he plays hard. He's a dominant pass-rusher inside."