During his first two years as a starting linebacker for the Washington Redskins, Rocky McIntosh was as quiet as can be.
Middle linebacker London Fletcher served as the defense's unquestioned leader. Marcus Washington always chatted and danced on the strong side. McIntosh, on the weak side, was all business, on and off the field.
But McIntosh has shed some of that shyness this offseason. Fletcher hasn't attend conditioning workouts at Redskin Park, Washington was released in February because of injuries and a high price tag, and veteran backup Khary Campbell remains unsigned.
McIntosh, heading into his fourth season, suddenly is the senior linebacker at Redskin Park.
“I never played that role in the past, but I'm vocal when I have to be,” he said. “I've got the most playing time here, so I can definitely be a help to guys.”
McIntosh said he hasn't heard from Fletcher or Washington since the season ended, but he sees Campbell since they're Northern Virginia neighbors.
“Those are my guys,” McIntosh said. “I learned from them. They set the tempo, Khary with special teams and Marcus on defense. … It would be great to have them back and try to build on what we did last year.”
The Redskins ranked fourth on defense in 2008; McIntosh, who suffered a major knee injury in December 2007, played all 16 games, starting 15. He ranked second on the team with 88 tackles.
Campbell called McIntosh one of the Redskins' “do-it-all guys.”
Said McIntosh: “I'm an OK guy, an average guy, but I'm not great. As a defense, we weren't great. We were No. 4, but why not be No. 1? I didn't make it to the Pro Bowl, and we didn't make it to the playoffs. That's what's you're striving for.”
McIntosh has loftier goals for 2009.
“Last year, I was rehabbing to get back, and I went straight into training camp [without a break],” McIntosh said. “This time around has been a lot less stressful. This year, I want to be a very explosive guy. I want to blow guys up every play. In college, that's the way I was, a little bit more relaxed out there, creating a bigger impact.”
McIntosh is doing that at Redskin Park. After nearly three years of staying “behind the curtains,” McIntosh had become more involved in community service and in players association matters. He also commandeered an empty work space in the public relations department, acting as a quasi-intern to learn what happens behind the scenes.
“Rocky's overcome adversity,” Campbell said. “When you're able to do that, [you] tend to be more confident and have fun.”
But McIntosh, who was involved for two years in a South Carolina commercial real estate company, didn't attend a recent three-day seminar for NFL players at Penn's Wharton School of Business just for fun.