Unheralded Whitticker Draws Raves

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 17, 2007

Guard Will Whitticker did not play a game in the NFL last season, but he could end up playing a significant role for the Washington Redskins by season's end. Whitticker, a free agent whose signing passed with little notice, has been a revelation this offseason and has been starting at right guard in this weekend's minicamp with stalwart Randy Thomas recovering from last week's minor knee surgery.

Much attention has focused on lineman Todd Wade, who has shifted from tackle to left guard to try to replace departed starter Derrick Dockery. But there are no assurances that Wade will indeed secure a permanent hold on the left guard spot, and Whitticker could push for a starting spot himself should his progress continue. Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense and offensive line coach, is raving about Whitticker.

"I don't like this kid; I love him," Bugel said. "A 350-pound guard who can play both right and left. We worked him out midseason last year and liked him. As soon as the season ended, we couldn't wait to sign him. He's a real solid football player and a real good kid. When we had a chance to get him there was no hesitation on my part at all. He belongs here."

Whitticker, 24, who has been highly active in charitable affairs, was a seventh-round pick from Michigan State in 2005 and started 14 games for Green Bay. But he suffered a hamstring injury in training camp and was released, spent a month with Miami before being waived in October and signed with Washington in January.

"It'd be good to find a home here," Whitticker said. "I am hoping to start, and I feel like I can play any position on the offensive line, wherever Coach needs me."

Wade, meantime, continues a tricky adjustment to playing guard. On the inside of the line, his footwork must be totally in sync with the other players, and leverage is imperative. But with a 6-foot-8 frame, it's not always easy to get his pad level as low as required.

"Before sometimes you're not really understanding exactly what Coach wants," Wade said. "I haven't played the position so you go out and try one thing, but he's really meaning something else. It had got to that point and finally we clicked and we're moving forward.

"I definitely have to get low, and I feel like I'm playing pretty low right now, but I'm not where I want to be right now. But it's also tough when you're not wearing shoulder pads, and the running game, we've eliminated a lot of the running plays for this go-through."

Roll Call

Cornerback Shawn Springs was excused from practice yesterday after returning to the hospital with his newborn son, who is being treated for jaundice. . . .

Rookie safety LaRon Landry missed practice again because of a groin bruise suffered in a team paintball outing. . . .

Linebacker Rocky McIntosh returned to practice yesterday after missing Friday's session to be with his wife and newborn son. . . .

Bubba Tyer, director of sports medicine, said rookie end Justin Hickman (knee) will be fine for training camp. Tailback Clinton Portis (knee) took part in limited action for the second straight day.

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