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Healthy McIntosh Is Happy to Get Going

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 1, 2006; E05

Linebacker Rocky McIntosh, the Washington Redskins' top pick in April's draft, was in attendance at the team meeting Sunday night and on the field for the first practice of training camp yesterday. McIntosh, a second-round pick out of Miami, started low on the depth chart, with the reserves, but was happy to be starting his professional career on time.

"It was kind of late, but we got it done," said McIntosh, who agreed to a four-year deal Sunday night.

With his arrival, the Redskins have no holdouts or unsigned players at camp -- "It's good to have everybody here," Coach Joe Gibbs said -- and McIntosh, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in the offseason, said he experienced no problems yesterday. He says he is dedicated to football only -- postponing his honeymoon until after the season -- and hopes to push for a starting role, with veteran Warrick Holdman the first-string weak-side linebacker for now.

"I'm right behind him working and trying to do whatever it takes to go out there and help my team," McIntosh said. "And if that means starting, I'll go out there and do it."

Excused Absences

Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a and wide receiver David Patten were not on the field yesterday. Salave'a, a native of Samoa, was excused to be with his family after his mother's recent death from cancer. She had suffered from the disease for a long time, Gibbs said, and the player was headed back to Samoa for a ceremony but could be back here by tomorrow.

"Our hearts go out to him," Gibbs said.

Patten has a viral infection, according to director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer, and was heading to the hospital for further tests after vomiting and having other problems. His status will be updated today.

Checking In Everywhere

With Al Saunders now running the offense, Gibbs was free to roam all practice fields during the opening training camp session and caught himself in several unusual positions, including -- of all things -- watching defensive drills. Gibbs, who reached the Hall of Fame for his offensive acumen, no longer has to concentrate on every pass his quarterbacks throw, and is taking advantage of his new freedom.

"I can spend more time eyeballing the defense and obviously I have a lot more free time when I don't have to be standing there looking at the offense," Gibbs said. "Maybe in some ways I hope by me being able to kind of balance my time better and be able to spend time all across the board, maybe that will help me be a better coach. It'll be different for me."

New Terms of the Offense

The Redskins are no longer labeling players H-backs, listing some, such as Chris Cooley, as tight ends and others, such as Mike Sellers, as fullbacks, but numerous coaches said the primary responsibilities of those players have not changed, and the move was made largely to accommodate the terminology of Saunders's offense. . . . There was a first for the team when a linebacker from Colombes, France, who attended NSC Marseille college, joined the team. Philippe Gardent was assigned to the team as part of a program from NFL Europe, putting players on the practice squads of NFL clubs. Gardent, the first European-born player to be named defensive player of the year in NFL Europe, can remain on the Redskins' practice squad all season and does not count against their roster total. . . . The team said 2,700 fans attended yesterday's practice, which was not as crisp as coaches would have liked. "I always get worried the first practice or two because everybody looks sluggish," Gibbs said. "But I think it's also understandable."

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