Redskins.com counts down to the start of Redskins Training Camp Presented by RE/MAX. Here are five training camp competitions to keep an eye on as training camp unfolds.
The Redskins' pass defense struggled at times last season, finishing 23rd in the NFL. Big plays were a continuing problem--the secondary allowed 20 pass plays of 30 yards or more last season.
The team's off-season strategy? Load up on defensive backs.
The first signing was Fred Smoot, who returns to the team that drafted him in 2001. Smoot is expected to complete with Carlos Rogers for playing time opposite Shawn Springs.
Rogers was the Redskins' top draft pick in 2005, the ninth overall selection that year. He has shown flashes of promise in two seasons as a pro, but he knows he must play more consistent. He had 88 tackles (71 solo) last year--his first as a full-time starter--but just one interception.
Smoot's addition represents the first real challenge to Rogers. He has proven he can be more opportunistic, grabbing 19 career interceptions in six seasons as a pro. He had 16 interceptions his first four years as a Redskin before moving on to Minnesota.
Both Rogers and Smoot should see plenty of playing time in Gregg Williams' nickel packages.
There is also a competition brewing for the fourth cornerback spot. Veteran cornerbacks David Macklin and Jerametrius Butler joined the Redskins this offseason and should provide quality depth.
Ade Jimoh, long a Redskins special teams ace, may have to step up his game to secure a roster spot in 2007.
-- LEFT GUARD
Todd Wade opted to re-sign with the Redskins with the understanding that he would shift from tackle to left guard, replacing the departed Derrick Dockery.
Wade still has to earn the starting job, though.
The 6-8, 314-pounder faces a challenge in adjusting to the position. He must work on his technique to make sure defensive linemen don't get leverage as they rush him.
Wade's top challenger could be Will Whitticker, a second-year player.. The 6-5, 356-pound behemoth guard started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2005, but was released a year later. He signed with the Redskins last January.
Veteran linemen Mike Pucillo, Taylor Whitley, Jason Fabini and Ross Tucker could also emerge through training camp.
-- WIDE RECEIVER
Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El arrived in Washington, D.C., in 2006 as key off-season acquisition. Neither produced the type of impact they hoped for. Lloyd started 12 games last year before giving way to Randle El.
With the 2007 season on the horizon, who will start opposite Santana Moss as the designated No. 2 wide receiver?
Lloyd and Randle El are prime candidates again. Both will see playing time, either as the No. 2 receiver or as the slot receiver.
But they'll need to show improved production. Lloyd caught 23 passes for 365 yards and Randle El grabbed 32 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
Both Lloyd and Randle El have worked in Al Saunders' system for a year now, so they should have a grasp of the pass patterns and timing involved on each route.
Should either struggle, veterans James Thrash, Corey Bradford and Jason McAddley, as well as youngster Mike Espy, could enter the competition as the third wide receiver.
-- WEAK-SIDE LINEBACKER
All indications are that Rocky McIntosh is ready to assume the starting job at weak-side linebacker.
Hold on, says Lemar Marshall.
McIntosh saw limited action in 2006, starting the last two games of the season and recording 23 tackles (17 solo). He impressed on special teams as he spent the season learning Gregg Williams' scheme.
Now McIntosh is ready for a bigger role. He drew praise from Williams as among the players who improved the most in the offseason. He is more decisive and has a better understanding of the defense.
Marshall started 15 games at middle linebacker. With free agent pickup London Fletcher in the fold this year, Marshall could shift back to the weak-side. He started 14 games at weak-side back in 2004.
A former college safety, it has been thought that Marshall, entering his sixth NFL season, may be a more natural fit at weak-side linebacker.
-- DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Since the Redskins' finished 29th in the NFL against run defense, the defensive tackle position will be closely monitored in preseason.
Cornelius Griffin is entrenched at one defensive tackle spot, while Kedric Golston has the inside track to start beside him.
Golston, who bulked up nearly 25 pounds in the offseason, emerged as a surprise contributor as a rookie, starting 13 games last season. He logged 59 tackles (35 solo), a half-sack and a fumble recovery.
Joe Salave'a and Anthony Montgomery could challenge Golston for playing time.
Salave'a is a 9-year veteran who had a reduced role in 2006. He started four games, but saw action in 13 as part of a defensive line rotation. He logged 26 tackles (13 solo).
This year, Salave'a added more bulk to his frame to help improve the Redskins' run defense. He is now listed at 6-3 and 337 pounds, a wide body in the interior of the defensive line.
Montgomery hopes for an increased role in 2007. He played in five games last year, with one start, recording 11 tackles (7 solo) and a half-sack.