Listed this week as day-to-day, Redskins defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis could see the field on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The team released Brandon Banks, who was active against the Minnesota Vikings, but will likely return to the practice squad. After missing the last two games with a fractured hand, it is becoming increasingly likely the former fifth-round pick will be ready to rejoin his mates in the trenches this week.
Prior to his injury, Ioannidis was having a breakout campaign—easily a career year for the Temple product. He fits the mold of “under-the-radar” player perfectly, since few expected him to show up this season and be as dominant as he was to start the year. With 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble, he represented a realistic threat to offenses from the middle of the defensive line. He routinely pushes the pocket back, and throughout the first half of the season, opposing quarterbacks have found themselves with little room to step up.
The season-ending loss of Jonathan Allen, coupled with the absence of Ioannidis, has resulted in the Redskins faltering up front over the last few weeks. This really underscores the value that Ioannidis provided the defense when healthy. After the Skins lost Phil Taylor in the preseason, it was hard to imagine the team would be able to find a way to create pressure up the middle. Enter the 6’3” 305-lb beast of a man we affectionately refer to as Ion Man. I can assure you that nobody was double-teaming him in week one, but we have seen offensive lines take him far more seriously since.
In order for the Redskins to be successful against the first-ballot Hall of Famer Drew Brees, the defense is going to need Matt Ioannidis to play. The club he now sports on his hand is going to have to be used to his and our advantage. If he is able to make a difference on Sunday, the Redskins chances of winning are all of a sudden vastly increased. I don’t think I ever thought I would be saying that a few months ago!