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Five Storylines to Follow At Mini-Camp

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Following a disappointing 5-11 season, the Redskins have had a measured offseason, signing two marquee free agents in London Fletcher and Fred Smoot and drafting an elite-level safety in LaRon Landry.

This weekend, coaches get a final look at the club's makeup during the Redskins' three-day, full-squad mini-camp at Redskins Park.

What are some of the top storylines to keep an eye on during mini-camp? Here are five to follow:

-- TWO WORDS: JASON CAMPBELL

In many respects, the Redskins' 2007 offseason is all about Jason Campbell's development as a starting NFL quarterback. His success will be key to the Redskins this year--and in the long term.

Last season, he started the last seven games and guided the team to a 2-5 finish. He showed enough promise down the stretch to prove to coaches he could be the Redskins' future at quarterback.

This offseason, he has opened eyes with his work ethic and dedication. In on-field action, he has worked on his technique and footwork. His passes in OTA action have been crisp and accurate.

Just read the quotes:

"He has been like my son--every time I look over my shoulder, he has been here this offseason," associate head coach-offense Al Saunders said. "He is making progress. He is a wonderful kid to work with and he is extremely bright. He has worked extremely hard on his techniques and fundamentals."

In his first two NFL seasons, Campbell participated in Rookie Camps and Mini-Camps, but never as the Redskins' designated starter.

This weekend will be his first as The Man, and he will need to be a presence on and off the field. He will need to show poise and leadership among his teammates.

Perhaps it's an overstatement, but the Jason Campbell era could really begin this weekend.

-- AT LEFT GUARD

Coaches appear committed to veteran Todd Wade, even though he is a career offensive tackle. Wade re-signed with the Redskins this offseason with the understanding that he would play left guard, replacing Derrick Dockery.

Wade's 6-8, 317-pound frame could be a challenge as he works to gain leverage against smaller, bulkier defensive tackles.

Wade will likely get the bulk of reps this mini-camp. If he struggles, then the team has a group of experienced guards to work into the mix.

Mike Pucillo and Ross Tucker, both of whom re-signed with the Redskins this offseason, have played guard and center in their careers.

Taylor Whitley started 11 games at right guard for the Denver Broncos in 2004. And Will Whitticker started 14 games at right guard for the Green Bay Packers in 2005.

-- SECONDARY FIRST

The Redskins' defense slipped to 31st overall in the NFL last year, and this offseason coaches opted to put a focus on improving the talent in the secondary instead of the defensive line.

At cornerback, returning starters Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers are joined by Fred Smoot, who started for the Redskins from 2001-04, and David Macklin. Ade Jimoh, a fifth-year cornerback, is a valuable special teams contributor.

As recently as June 7, the Redskins were still fine-tuning their roster of cornerbacks. The team signed 6-year veteran Jerametrius Butler, formerly with the St. Louis Rams, to compete for a roster spot.

Certainly, assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams will use all his cornerbacks in different roles and packages. How those roles will sort out remains uncertain, though.

Springs is 32 and coming off an injury-plagued season. Rogers is a high draft pick who struggled at times last year in his first full season as a starter. Smoot excelled with the Redskins in his first stint with the club, but in Minnesota he struggled the last two seasons playing in Cover 2 schemes instead of man-to-man.

Macklin, a seven-year veteran, joins the Redskins from Arizona where he was a part-time starter in 2006. Butler is coming off two injury plagued seasons in St. Louis.

This weekend's mini-camp will be the first action of what promises to be an intriguing competition at cornerback.

Sean Taylor returns to play free safety--he had an up-and-down season in 2006, but still earned a Pro Bowl berth.

Taylor is joined by top draft pick LaRon Landry, who is slated to play strong safety. The mini-camp could be the first extended time that Taylor and Landry will play along-side each other.

If Landry isn't ready to start by opening day, Williams can rely on veterans Pierson Prioleau, Omar Stoutmire and Vernon Fox.

-- NEW BEGINNING FOR ROCKY

Rocky McIntosh saw limited action as a rookie, getting two late-season starts while excelling on special teams all season long.

Is he ready to assume a more prominent role on defense--perhaps as a starter at weak-side linebacker?

Warrick Holdman has signed with the Denver Broncos this offseason, so he won't return in 2007. That opens the door for McIntosh, who is expected to compete for playing time with veteran Lemar Marshall.

In his two starts last season, McIntosh logged 20 tackles (16 solo). He impressed coaches with his burst at the line of scrimmage, but he wasn't ready for a starting role until late in the year.

More will be expected of him in 2007. The Redskins drafted McIntosh with their top draft pick in 2006, trading up in the second round to acquire the 6-2, 231-pound linebacker out of Miami.

Through off-season work, McIntosh has shown strong burst at the line of scrimmage.

Although Gregg Williams occasionally removes the weak-side linebacker in passing situations, McIntosh could still be used to rush the quarterback or in pass coverage against tight ends and running backs.

-- JUST FOR KICKS

It's somewhat surprising that the Redskins did not bring in strong competition for third-year kicker Shaun Suisham this offseason.

Suisham won a mid-season kicking competition with Nick Novak last December and was solid down the stretch, finishing the year connecting on 8-of-9 field goals.

In Week 16 at St. Louis, he earned praise from Joe Gibbs when he nailed a 52-yard field goal to tie the game with 1:15 left.

Suisham established himself as an NFL kicker with his late-season performance, but he remains a young kicker with not even a full 16 games under his belt.

This offseason, the Redskins brought in another young kicker in Tyler Fredrickson. He is unproven, though, giving Suisham a leg up on his only competition.

To solidify the Redskins' kicking job for 2007, Suisham will need to impress during mini-camp. There's still plenty of time before training camp for the Redskins to bring in competition.

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