Five-and-a-half months since their last game and about six weeks before they report to training camp, the Washington Redskins open their lone minicamp of the offseason today. Ryan O'Halloran identifies five things worth monitoring when the Redskins hit the field:
The Redskins tried to replace second-year man Rocky McIntosh even before giving him a shot to start at outside linebacker opposite Marcus Washington. But talks with the Chicago Bears for Lance Briggs went nowhere, and because Warrick Holdman remains unsigned, the job is McIntosh's to lose. He started the final two games of 2006 and played well. This weekend, he gets to work with the starting defense for three straight days.
Quarterback Jason Campbell was thrown into the lineup for the final seven games last season after getting minimal work with the team's starting receivers. Campbell and his cast -- Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Brandon Lloyd and tight end Chris Cooley -- now have had the offseason to work out the kinks and expand the passing game.
The days of interchangeable safety positions in the Redskins' secondary apparently are over. Sean Taylor has been designated the free safety and rookie LaRon Landry the strong safety. Those players learning to work together in minicamp and training camp will be important if the Redskins want to improve their No. 31 ranking in yards allowed. Landry needs to be solid against the run, and Taylor has to create more turnovers.
Only a handful of roster spots will be up for grabs in the preseason, but a few roles will be determined. The intriguing story lines to follow: No. 2 cornerback (Fred Smoot or Carlos Rogers); No. 2 receiver (Lloyd or Randle El); the backup safety derby (Pierson Prioleau, Omar Stoutmire, Vernon Fox, Reed Doughty); the defensive tackle rotation (is there room for Joe Salave'a?); and the rookie linebacker competition (H.B. Blades or Dallas Sartz).
WHO'S NOT PRACTICING
Right guard Randy Thomas (knee surgery), running back Clinton Portis (knee) and receiver Santana Moss (groin) won't be participating this weekend, and defensive ends Phillip Daniels (wrist) and Renaldo Wynn (elbow) will be limited. The biggest concern is Portis. He missed half of last season with shoulder and hand injuries, and running backs can ill afford to have lower-body injuries ... before being hit even once.