When Rich Milot was a running back at Penn State, the last thing he envisioned playing was middle linebacker. But that was before pro football, 20 extra pounds and a lot of time in the weight room changed his mind.

"I always thought I was too skinny," he said. "Shows how much I know."

Milot, who now weighs 230, is progressing nicely as the main subject in one of the major experiments at Redskin training camp: converting him from an outside linebacker to a backup middle linebacker.

"I feel a lot more comfortable this week in the middle than I did last week," he said. "It's coming along fine. Funny, I was getting used to the outside when I made the move, but I'm not fighting it. It's just a whole different world in there."

Milot could become a key force in the Redskins' defense this season. Coach Jack Pardee is trying him in the middle behind Neal Olkewicz in order to take advantage of Milot's pass-covering ability. He is ticketed to play in obvious passing situations and in the club's nickel defense.

"The coverages in the middle are a little different," Milot said. "You can block a back on the outside, but in the middle you have to go a long way to get in contact with him. It's a different angle. But I enjoy covering more than anything else, so this is great."

Milot laughed. "I guess it's good that I was moved around so much at Penn State. I'm used to learning new positions and not getting settled into just one."

Olkewicz is in no danger of losing his starting spot, but the former Maryland star says he's still not resting that easily with Milot right behind him.