By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 16, 2006
When the Washington Redskins open a three-day minicamp today at Redskins Park, three points of interest are expected to stand above the rest: a first look at the revamped wide receiver corps of Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd, the anticipation of Jason Campbell assuming the role of No. 2 quarterback, and linebacker Rocky McIntosh replacing LaVar Arrington on defense.
McIntosh will have to wait to make his debut at training camp late next month as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery performed three days ago. Campbell, meantime, will be in the spotlight at minicamp because Mark Brunell is out with a fractured left index finger. With Patrick Ramsey now with the New York Jets, and the Redskins implementing a new offense under coordinator Al Saunders, Campbell's apprenticeship will take on an added urgency.
Brunell will attend the minicamp but will not participate in any drills. Coach Joe Gibbs called the injury to his throwing hand "minor." Throughout the offseason, Gibbs has said that Campbell -- a first-round draft pick last year -- is going to receive his share of responsibilities during minicamp and training camp.
Brunell's absence, however, will not blunt the excitement at Redskins Park surrounding the receiving corps, which, by the end of last season was a weak link on the offense. After an offseason in which the Redskins could reflect on a breakout 2005 season from Santana Moss -- he set a team-record 1,483 receiving yards last season -- as well as spend $21 million to sign Lloyd and Randle El, wide receiver is one of the club's strongest areas.
"I think we're all working on being on the same page, working together," Lloyd said after a workout a few weeks ago. "I think everybody is excited about this."
One receiver, David Patten, enters minicamp highly motivated. Patten was limited to 22 catches last season and was put on injured reserve a week before Thanksgiving following knee surgery. He has been saying for weeks that he is healthy and ready to compete. During optional workouts over the past couple of weeks, Patten said he relished the idea of competition.
"If I'm the fourth receiver, then that tells you how good we're going to be," Patten said.
McIntosh, who was drafted 35th overall by the Redskins in April after the team traded with the New York Jets to acquire the pick, is on the shelf. Though projected in the top tier of linebackers in the draft, McIntosh was not expected to go in the first round. Nevertheless, the Redskins view McIntosh as the replacement on the weak side of the defense for Arrington, who signed with the New York Giants.
Without McIntosh, the Redskins are eager to monitor the progression of weak-side linebackers Chris Clemons, who underwent knee surgery late last season, and Warrick Holdman, who was re-signed as a free agent.
When safety Sean Taylor arrives at Redskins Park, he for the first time in a year will be able to concentrate on football without the specter of a trial or potential jail time hanging over him. Taylor entered a plea of no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery charges in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court two weeks ago, and agreed to 18 months probation in exchange for Miami prosecutors dropping felony assault charges against him.