The Redskins may have drafted two linebackers in last weekend's NFL Draft--and brought in another linebacker prospect as an undrafted rookie free agent--but Robert McCune isn't about to cede anything.
The second-year player, drafted in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, has been a regular participant in the Redskins' off-season workout regimen. He is spending extra time in the classroom working with position coach Dale Lindsey.
McCune's experience will certainly give him an advantage over the Redskins' newest additions at linebacker: second-round draft pick Roger "Rocky" McIntosh, seventh-round draft pick Kevin Simon and undrafted rookie pickup Spencer Havner.
But McCune also understands he has to earn a roster spot in training camp this August. His one year of NFL experience will only take him so far.
"It all depends on how I do in training camp," he said. "You have to have a great training camp, go out and show the coaches that you know what you're doing. They have to have confidence in you to put you out on the field and play.
"I want to make sure I know the defense inside and out. I have to be ready mentally to go out on the field and play. I have to know where to be lined up. I also want to know the defense so well that I can get other guys lined up. That's what Lemar Marshall and Marcus Washington can do."
McCune played in five games last season, almost exclusively on special teams. He logged eight special teams tackles.
Coaches have alternated McCune at the middle linebacker and weak-side linebacker positions, McCune said.
"Last year, I was predominantly learning the middle linebacker, but this year I've been learning the weak-side spot," he said. "I'm just going to do the best that I can, no matter where I'm lined up. I'm watching film every day and looking at both positions, watching what they're doing. If I have questions, I just ask [Coach Lindsey]. That's all I can do to help out the team and make myself better."
McCune grew up in Mobile, Ala., and opted to go into the Army following high school. He spent three years in the U.S. National Guard and had stints in Kuwait and Korea before enrolling at Louisville.
McCune starred for the Cardinals, playing in 51 games and recording 320 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions during his college career. Before the 2005 NFL Draft, pro football was not really on his radar screen, but the Redskins took notice of his skills, saw potential, and drafted him with the 154th overall selection in the fifth round.
McCune has gained a degree of fame as a weightlifter. In high school, he won back-to-back power-lifting titles during his junior and senior seasons. His chiseled physique has earned him acclaim and an inside spread (along with running back Clinton Portis) in Muscle & Fitness magazine in October 2005.
This offseason, McCune has been working out in the program designed by head strength and conditioning coach John Hastings
"Every day I just come in ready to go," McCune said. "I stay motivated. Staying in great shape can carry you through a long season in the NFL. I give it 100 percent every day--I don't want to cheat myself.
"They have a great workout for us. I do a little bit extra every day, but with John pushing us, it's going well."
What do linebackers need to work on in the weight room?
"Linebackers have to work everything," McCune replied. "You need to work your legs, you need to work your upper body. You need to work every muscle in your body. You have to be real athletic to be a linebacker in the NFL."