The Redskins anticipated that first-round pick Carlos Rogers, the ninth overall pick in April's draft, would be able to fill the nickel spot in the secondary as the third cornerback in many defensive packages. The rookie, who signed with the team yesterday, may be able to assume that role at some point, but given his foot and ankle injuries and the fact he missed part of minicamp and the first day of training camp, several players are auditioning for that job.
Rogers is likely to be behind for a while, and his injuries could keep him off the field through the week, if not longer. No rookie wants to miss any part of training camp, particularly with this coaching staff, which is adept at turning unknowns into regular contributors.
Cornerback Ade Jimoh, who has been used primarily on special teams the past two seasons, was serving as the nickel back with the first-team defense at the start of camp, with Walt Harris, the nickel last season, starting at cornerback after the departure of Fred Smoot in free agency.
The position has significant importance given the amount of time the nickel spends on the field. Garnell Wilds, who wowed the coaches after being signed as an undrafted free agent last season, could benefit most from Rogers's absence. His 2004 progress left the coaches eager to test him with an expanded role.
In the meantime, Rogers will attend all meetings and watch practice, trying to absorb as much as possible, but his timetable for becoming an NFL regular is clearly a bit longer now.
FRESH FACE: ZAK KEASEY
Who He Is: Keasey is a rookie who was signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in May. An undersized, active linebacker with dreadlocks poking out from under his helmet, Keasey was trailed at times Monday by a small contingent of Princeton coaches who kept an eye on his progress, but also was learning from Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach-defense. (Williams's son, Blake, plays football at Princeton.)
"He's done a very good job and he deserves to be here," Williams said of Keasey. "He competed hard from the time we brought him in here and we thought we might find a spot for him." Keasey was a second-team all-American his senior year and led the Ivy League with 127 tackles his senior year. He led his team in tackles three times.
Chances of Making the Roster: The good news for Keasey is that linebackers are needed in Washington. With the exit of Antonio Pierce and Mike Barrow and the injury to LaVar Arrington, there is an opportunity for a linebacker to make an impression. But Keasey will have to bring more than his dreads ("It's extra cushion under the helmet," he joked) if he wants to stand out from the 13 other linebackers in camp. He has so far, lighting up opponents in one-on-one drills.
"I am the fastest man, the fastest. If no one is lying about their time, I am the fastest."
Receiver-return specialist Antonio Brown, on being the fastest man in the NFL
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
Days until the Redskins take on the Bears at FedEx Field
-- Jason La Canfora and Daniel Lyght