Among the biggest developments to come out of the Redskins' recently-completed mini-camp concerned the situation at the weak-side linebacker spot.
Gregg Williams said competition was tremendous, with Warrick Holdman, Chris Clemons and rookie Rocky McIntosh in the off-season mix.
Former Miami Hurricane McIntosh, the Redskins' second-round pick and the 35th overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, missed his first NFL mini-camp while he had his knee scoped.
Coming as something of a surprise were Williams' comments regarding Holdman, who is entering his eighth year in the league.
Twice in his career, in 2001 at Chicago and in 2004 at Cleveland, Holdman produced well over 100 tackles. But last year, his first season in Washington, Holdman really fell off form.
He finished the regular season with just 38 tackles and a fumble recovery (at Arizona). Overall, Holdman made seven starts and played in 14 regular-season games.
Looking ahead, though, it appears Redskins defensive coaches have given Holdman a clean slate for 2006.
He has the early inside track on the weak side--next to Lemar Marshall in the middle and Marcus Washington on the strong side.
"Hopefully, I'll do everything I need to do," says Holdman, a native of Alief, Texas who played his college ball at Texas A&M and was a fourth-round pick (106th overall) by Chicago in 1999. "The coaches will see for themselves. I'll play the best I can.
"I'm probably the jack-of-all-trades among our linebackers. I can do anything you ask me to do. I'm just focusing on my game, and that's what I do every practice, every day."
As to why his production fell off in 2005, Holdman said during mini-camp: "When I came here last year I was about 240 pounds. I'd been in free agency, on the trips. I came in this year right around 238, but now I'm down to 233. I'd like to be playing at 233 or 232."
During his first five years in the league, Holdman was a fixture at linebacker for the Bears, playing for Dale Lindsey and Greg Blache alongside Brian Urlacher.
Holdman had a career-high 145 tackles in 2001, including seven when the Bears knocked the Redskins out of the playoff chase with a 20-15 win at FedExField.
Between 2003 and 2005, he changed addresses between Chicago, Cleveland and Washington. Maybe all the changes had something to do with his sub-par 2005 showing with the Redskins.
That he was always competing with fan favorite LaVar Arrington may have been another factor.
Asked for his current perspective, Holdman said: "I feel more confident when I know I'm in shape and I know I've been working hard. I feel confident now.
"Last year, they were practicing for two months while I was flying around the country. This year I feel comfortable because I know I've been in the classroom studying."
One of 10 linebackers on the Redskins' off-season roster, Holdman says he wants to be in as many of Williams' 24 defensive packages as possible and that he's ready for competition in training camp.
"If I'm in all of them, that means I'm doing something right," he added. "I wasn't a first-round pick so I know I have to come out every day and compete."