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News & Notes: Wilson Adjusts to Linebacker Role

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Chris Wilson lined up across from Chris Cooley, anticipating a pass play.

He wasn't sure, though.

Cooley hesitated at the line of scrimmage, and Wilson glanced into the backfield to see if Jason Campbell was handing off to a running back.

In that moment, Cooley had him.

Campbell completed a pass across the middle to Cooley, with Wilson at his heels.

It was a learning experience for Wilson as he transitions to linebacker this offseason.

"I appreciate having an asset like a Chris Cooley and a Todd Yoder and a Fred Davis to go against [in practice]," Wilson said. "You're working on your technique, and then they do little things to get you out of your game."

Wilson has played defensive end each of the last two years for the Redskins. He has recorded 28 tackles and five sacks in that span.


With the departure of Marcus Washington this offseason, the Redskins looked for candidates to play strong-side linebacker.

Give his 6-4, 247-pound frame and good speed, Wilson seemed to be a natural fit. He played some linebacker while in the Canadian Football League in 2005-06.

The early returns have been mixed, Wilson admitted.

"It's a work in progress," he said. "I'm not a fish out of water, but I'm not swimming that well."

As a defensive lineman, Wilson focused on rushing the passer and maintaining gap control.

Now, as a linebacker, he has to understand more assignments and be prepared to drop back into pass coverage.

"At mini-camp, I had a good bead on all the play calls and knowing my assignments," he said. "Now I have to put it all together in anticipating all of the routes and formations and tendencies.

"As a linebacker, I don't have to panic. I can just let everything develop before I react. Being a lineman, when that ball was snapped, it was time to just go and get [the quarterback]."

It remains to be seen how coaches use Brian Orakpo, the Redskins' first-round draft choice last April, and Wilson. Both could see themselves playing a similar role, splitting time at linebacker and defensive end.

Wilson was open to moving to linebacker because it could help him get on the field more.

Last year, Wilson saw action as a third-down pass rusher when Jason Taylor was out of the lineup.

"It's just going to make me better--and make this team better," he said.

-- REDSKINS SIGN ELOI, RELEASE ATTERBERRY

The Redskins signed wide receiver Keith Eloi to the roster on Thursday and released punter Zac Atterberry.

Eloi participated in the team's mini-camp last weekend and was impressive, showing good speed and hauling in several deep passes.

Eloi, 5-10 and 190 pounds, spent the last two seasons at Nebraska-Omaha after transferring from William Rainey Harper College where he was a two-time junior college All-American.

In two years at Nebraska-Omaha, Eloi registered 57 catches for 749 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned 25 kickoffs for a 26.5-yard average and one touchdown.

Eloi is a native of Naples, Fla.

The release of Atterberry means that veteran Hunter Smith, signed on April 21, is the only punter on the roster.

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