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Holdman Has Early Lead In Logjam at Linebacker

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 18, 2006

When the Washington Redskins traded up on draft day in order to select linebacker Rocky McIntosh with the 35th pick, the move seemed to indicate that the team didn't feel either of its two incumbents at the position -- Chris Clemons and Warrick Holdman -- was the successor to LaVar Arrington at weak-side linebacker.

When McIntosh was introduced, he was touted for his intelligence and the versatility that allows him to play both passing and running situations. The latter seemed a direct reference to Holdman, a run-stopping specialist, and Clemons, a speed rusher designated for passing downs.

But after two weeks of scheduled workouts and two days of minicamp, McIntosh is recovering from knee surgery, and Holdman has impressed enough for assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams to say he has an early lead at the position.

Holdman, who started the first seven games last season, has frustrated the Redskins with what Williams called a lack of conditioning, but that appears to be a thing of the past.

"Warrick right now is having a great camp. He has done a great job with the strength and conditioning program. This is the first year he has had a chance to have a full offseason with us," Williams said. "His suddenness without the pads on is excellent. Right now, Warrick has done the best job coming out of this camp with Roger and Chris breathing right down his neck."

McIntosh, who underwent knee surgery on Wednesday, walked around Redskins Park yesterday sporting a wrap on his left knee and a soft limp, but linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said he did not see McIntosh losing ground because of the injury.

"He missed three days," Lindsey said. "It's not like he's missed three weeks."

With training camp still six weeks away, little of what occurs this weekend can be considered much of an indication of who will emerge when the Redskins open their season against Minnesota on Sept. 11. Nevertheless, Holdman is an example of the position battles that have already begun to take shape.

It will be a particularly interesting position to watch because of the players' unique styles and limitations -- Holdman's conditioning, Clemons's struggles against the run and McIntosh's inexperience.

"Last week the light went on for Rocky McIntosh. He was really having some great practices," Williams said. "He made about three or four things last week that were the best of any linebacker since I have been here on some plays in the [scheduled workouts] last week. Hopefully, the game is slowing down for him right now."

Doughty Keeps His Head Above Water

Williams said he was also impressed with the progression of rookie safety Reed Doughty. Williams has made repeated references that he feels something of a kinship toward Doughty.

"I think he's an overachiever, and I can relate to that," Williams said. "When he first got here, his head was swimming. He is a guy that overanalyzes everything. He is very bright. He is extremely prideful. He can't stand making a mistake. He has been an overachiever his whole life. He wants it so bad that sometimes he gets that paralysis of overanalyzing things."

For Campbell, the Tests Lie Ahead

Associate head coach Al Saunders gave his assessment of quarterback Jason Campbell after two days of minicamp and concurred with the sentiments of Coach Joe Gibbs on Friday. Campbell has impressed the Redskins with his work ethic, but Saunders and Gibbs are eager for the preseason games to begin.

"He knows this is his opportunity to get some playing time, especially in the preseason where he's going to play quite a bit. Coach Gibbs has made a real commitment to Jason that he's going to have an opportunity to really show what he can do," Saunders said. "We're kind of starting him from the ground up and we're kind of molding him into the kind of quarterback that will be very successful in this offense."

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