- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Washington Redskins have eight linebackers with NFL experience, including longtime starters LaVar Arrington, Marcus Washington and Warrick Holdman. The Redskins also used two of their six draft picks on linebackers.

So undrafted rookie linebacker Zak Keasey faces long odds of winning a job, especially considering he played his college ball at Division I-AA Princeton. However, Keasey is earning notice during training camp — and not just for the thick dreadlocks he tucks under his helmet.

During 7-on-7 drills in Saturday’s scrimmage in Baltimore, Keasey smartly intercepted a pass thrown by Ravens rookie quarterback Darian Durant.

“I was just playing my spot in the zone defense, and he threw it right to me,” Keasey said. “I was just in the right place at the right time. It was a good thing, but I didn’t ask to keep the ball. It was only 7-on-7. I’ll wait until I do something in a real game.”

Keasey’s first preseason game will be Saturday at Carolina. Meanwhile, the two-time all-Ivy League choice is taking advantage of Arrington’s continued absence because of an ailing knee to gain additional practice reps behind new starter Holdman.

“The coaching staff has been real great about giving everyone an equal shot,” Keasey said. “I’m optimistic about my chances.”

Keasey played with assistant head coach Gregg Williams’ son, Blake, at Princeton, but the 23-year-old Michigan native said his new teammates haven’t teased him much about the connection.

Back among friends

Tight end Robert Johnson, who joined the Redskins on Sunday, has been reunited with college teammates Jason Campbell and Carlos Rogers.

Johnson was in Mobile, Ala., when the Redskins called late last week. He was not chosen in the 2003 draft but later was signed and then cut by Atlanta, Chicago and last month Tampa Bay.

He has played in just one NFL game, in 2003 for the Bears. However, Johnson caught 30 passes for 365 yards as a senior at Auburn in 2002. Campbell started six games at quarterback for the Tigers that season, and Rogers was a regular at cornerback.

In last night’s second session of full-team work, Johnson showed excellent speed in splitting safeties Matt Bowen and Pierson Prileau for a long touchdown reception from Campbell.

“Things are going pretty well right now [even though] there’s a lot of stuff I missed out on by not being here for the [offseason workouts] and the start of camp,” Johnson said. “The Rams wanted to bring me in, but this is the place I wanted to come because of Jason and our history together.”

Johnson failed his physical with Tennessee but said that was related to a “minor nick” he had suffered at Auburn. He passed the Redskins’ physical and will try to use his 6-foot-6, 278-pound frame to push veteran Brian Kozlowski, who didn’t re-sign until the eve of camp, out of the backup role behind starter Robert Royal.

Injury update

Arrington, Rogers and defensive tackle Brandon Noble (knee) continued to rehab, and cornerbacks Shawn Springs (hamstring) and Artrell Hawkins (hamstring), receiver Taylor Jacobs (toe) and safety Tony Dixon (hamstring) remained on the sideline.

Cornerback Garnell Wilds, receiver Santana Moss, defensive end Phillip Daniels, offensive lineman Ray Brown and running back Dahrran Diedrick all returned to practice.

Defensive end Renaldo Wynn returned after missing four days following his father-in-law’s death.

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