Redskins.com counts down to the start of Redskins Training Camp Built by The Home Depot. Here are five veterans to keep an eye on as training camp unfolds:
-- LADELL BETTS, RB
Of course, everybody will have their eye on Clinton Portis during training camp. Perhaps no other Redskins player has his magnetic personality, not to mention popularity. But Portis's backup, Ladell Betts, could play a significant role in Al Saunders' offensive system as well.
In Kansas City the last three years, Saunders gave both Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson significant playing time. He could do the same with Portis and Betts.
"Ladell is a three-dimensional player," Saunders said. "He can run the ball well and he [holds the ball] in the right place, he catches the ball well and he can block well enough for our offense to be very successful."
Betts has served mostly as a backup in his four-year career. First it was Stephen Davis in 2002, followed by Trung Canidate in 2003. The last two seasons, it has been Portis. Betts has logged 1,271 rushing yards in his career.
"I didn't realize [Ladell] was as good as he is," Saunders said. "We won't be in pads until training camp, but going in I would think he is going to make a tremendous contribution this year."
-- MARK BRUNELL, QB
The Redskins' quarterback position is always under a microscope. This year, it seems a lot of pundits are putting the hopes of the team's season squarely on the shoulder of Brunell.
The 35-year-old quarterback is coming off one of his best seasons in the NFL: Brunell completed 262-of-454 passes for 23 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a QB rating of 85.9.
Brunell still faces questions, though. Can he avoid injury? Does he still have zip on the ball? Can he adapt to a new offense based on rhythm and timing? Does he still have mobility to scramble away from pressure?
Looking back at some of the quarterbacks that Saunders has coached, Brunell seems to fit that mold. Saunders has previously coached Rich Gannon and Trent Green, both veteran quarterbacks that excelled in his offense.
"Mark has the ability to adjust to the quick passing game," Saunders said. "He has the ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly. From what I've seen, he's a more accurate thrower than what I expected him to be. And he can handle all of the terminology and all of the protections in this offense."
-- PHILLIP DANIELS, DE
Last December, Phillip Daniels turned his game up a notch and was a dominant force on the defensive line. He logged eight sacks in a span of seven games. Can he maintain that form heading into the 2006 season?
"Staying healthy and having gas in the tank and zip in his legs--that was a big factor down the stretch," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said.
With the arrival of Andre Carter to the team, Daniels could shift sides on the defensive line. The 6-5, 285-pounder played right defensive end last year; this year he could see time at left defensive end, as well as some defensive tackle. Even at age 33, he is a big part of Williams' defense.
Daniels may have to use a different set of pass-rushing skills on the left side, but his 10 years of NFL experience should help. If Carter starts to draw double-teams, that should benefit Daniels, who likely will be left one-on-one with an offensive lineman.
-- CARLOS ROGERS, CB
Carlos Rogers enters his second NFL season expected to draw a starting assignment at cornerback opposite veteran Shawn Springs. The 5-9, 195-pound Rogers started five regular season games last year while battling through injuries. He also started both Redskins' playoff games last January.
In 2006, Rogers officially takes over for departed veteran Walt Harris. Is Rogers ready for a more significant role in the Redskins' defense?
"I'm up for the challenge," Rogers told reporters earlier this offseason. "This year, I understand things a lot more."
What to watch for in Rogers during training camp? He has great speed to go along with tackling ability, but he said he needs to work on staying with wide receivers as they turn up-field and come out of breaks. He also continues to develop his play recognition skills.
-- SEAN TAYLOR, S
In just two NFL seasons, free safety Sean Taylor has become one of the most popular Redskins players. With his off-the-field problems resolved, Taylor appears ready to emerge as one of the league's elite players.
Taylor was a dominant figure in the Redskins' defense late in the season, as he returned to fumbles for touchdowns in consecutive games, including the Redskins' 17-10 win over Tampa Bay. Meantime, Taylor's reputation as a feared hitter in the secondary continues to grow.
In interviews, he sounds like a player ready to take his play to the next level.
"I can get better," he said. "I think I still have a way to travel to be with the Troy Polamalu's and the Ed Reed's-I mean, I'm still only getting two or three interceptions a year, so I'd like to see my interceptions go up. Just to see my production go up would help the team win.
"Getting to the playoffs isn't good enough for us. We'd like to eventually win a Super Bowl one day--and sooner would be greater than later."