Free Agent Ortega in Good Company

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 6, 2006

Should undrafted free agent tight end Buck Ortega manage to crack the Washington Redskins' roster, he will have no shortage of friends in the area. Ortega, who played for the University of Miami, was one of 89 players at Redskins Park yesterday for the start of a weekend rookie camp.

Ortega played high school and college football with Redskins safety Sean Taylor, and also played with running back Clinton Portis and recently drafted linebacker Rocky McIntosh at Miami. He also knows fellow Miami product Santana Moss, and hopes to renew acquaintances with all of them this summer at training camp.

"I really like the offense the Redskins run, anyway, and there's a bunch of U-M guys I know here, too," Ortega said. "So that was a positive. They said they need someone at this position, and that's what I look for. So I think it will be a good fit."

Ortega and Taylor played offense and defense in high school -- Ortega was a quarterback and Taylor was a running back on offense -- and they also roomed together for two years in college. The Redskins are hoping to boost their depth at tight end/H-back, and Ortega could push for that role.

"He's athletic, and he comes from a very good background," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "He played at a school that has produced a lot of very good football players. They play a super brand of football down there."

Saunders on the Move

Al Saunders, an offseason addition as associate head coach-offense, was the most active person on the practice fields yesterday. Saunders, an avid runner and fitness fanatic, tore down the sideline during several plays to congratulate or scold players. He nearly was involved in a few collisions -- the drills were not full contact -- and brought a high tempo to the session.

"He was probably the best-looking athlete out there," Gibbs said. "He has a lot of enthusiasm, which is good."

Gibbs declined to discuss any players; with so much activity occurring simultaneously it was difficult to draw conclusions without watching film. The players arrived at 7 a.m. for 3 1/2 hours of meetings before hitting the fields. . . .

Maryland wide receiver Derrick Fenner, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, missed practice with an ankle injury, Gibbs said.

Other local college products in attendance included Howard running back Jamar Smith, Virginia Tech running back Mike Imoh, Maryland running back Mario Merrils, Georgetown linebacker Mike Ononibaku and Maryland safety Milton Harris.

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