Grandson of great trying to catch on

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Dick Todd played eight seasons with Washington, with a two-year break for military service in World War II in the middle.

More than five decades later and seven years after his death, Todd’s Redskins tenure is a topic of conversation because his grandson, Taylor Whitley, is trying to win a job on Washington’s offensive line.

“My grandfather and I were very close,” said Whitley, who went to Texas A&M;, just like his grandfather. “I’ve got all kinds of Redskins memorabilia, a ball autographed by the team and all his football cards. I’ve seen his first contract. It was for $1,200. This organization means a lot to me and my family. So it’s important for me to make a good impression.”

Todd, a third-round pick out of Texas A&M; in 1939, led the 1940 NFL runners-up in rushing and the 1942 champions in receiving. He set the Redskins’ record for punt return average in 1941. And Todd took over as coach in 1951 after the Redskins had been pounded in their first three games and guided them to a 5-4 finish before he was replaced by Hall of Famer Curly Lambeau.

Although Whitley didn’t get into a game last season, he began making an impression after the Redskins signed him in October. The 6-foot-4, 316-pound Baytown, Texas, native started 11 games at guard for Miami in 2004 but was cut by new coach Nick Saban the next summer. Whitley caught on with Denver for the latter part of 2005 but was released.

Taylor’s a pretty good fit because he can play tackle and center and he’s a good guard,” offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. “That sixth, seventh guy has to play all the positions. Taylor’s a very intelligent and athletic young man, and he’s gotten tougher since he’s been here. We’ll probably keep nine guys, and he’s got a strong chance of making it.”

With left tackle Chris Samuels out until late this month with a sprained knee and right guard Randy Thomas still recovering from knee surgery in June, there have been extra snaps available in camp.

Whitley, who’s splitting time at left tackle with rookie free agent Stephon Heyer in Samuels’ absence and also has seen time at both guard spots, is using that versatility to his advantage.

“I picked up the basics of the offense last year,” Whitley said. “Now I’m feeling completely comfortable in the offense, not just my position, but what everybody’s doing. Starting with [spring practices], I’ve played every spot on the line. I’m just going to keep doing what they ask, keep trying to get better and hopefully they’ll have a spot for me. The competition is pretty intense. There are going to be some good guys on the streets at the end of camp.”

Officials pay a visit

A four-man officiating crew headed by field judge Boris Cheek is visiting Redskin Park to fill in the players and coaches on the tweaks to the rules. Among the changes, illegal cut blocks will cost 15 yards instead of 5; unintentional illegal touches, such as a ball hitting an offensive lineman in the back, won’t be penalized; and spiking in the field of play is a 5-yard penalty.

The ball, not the ballcarrier, now must touch the pylon or the inside of the pylon. Also, a play on which a receiver who gets two feet down and fumbles trying to advance the ball will be ruled a fumble and not an incomplete pass. Officials will make players with unfastened chin straps leave the game. Referees will have 60, not 90 seconds, for replay review, but their judgment should be greatly helped by a high-definition, 26-inch television and an election booth-like touch screen.

Lloyd, Fabini rest

Receiver Brandon Lloyd (shin splints) and offensive lineman Jason Fabini (groin) are the latest additions to the injury list. Running back Clinton Portis continued to rest his knee, but receiver Santana Moss (groin) and linebacker Marcus Washington (hip) practiced.

Defensive tackle Jared Clauss, formerly with Tennessee, was released. Defensive tackle Vaka Manupuna, who was on the Redskins’ practice squad for a month last year, was signed.

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