- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2006

The Washington Times’ Ryan O’Halloran will examine one Redskins position group each day until Sunday, when the team reports to training camp. Today: Linebackers.

Who’s back: Starting strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington and middle linebacker Lemar Marshall, part-time weak-side starter Warrick Holdman and reserves Khary Campbell, Chris Clemons and Robert McCune.

Who’s new: Second-round draft pick Rocky McIntosh and seventh-round pick Kevin Simon.

Overview: Washington has been a stud since coming from Indianapolis and he was second on the team last year with 93 tackles. Now that LaVar Arrington is in New York, Washington is the unquestioned pulse of the Redskins’ defense. Marshall (team-high 98 tackles) thrived in his first season as a starter and as someone trusted by assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams. The Redskins stayed away from an Arrington replacement during free agency and rookie McIntosh is the future at that spot. Clemons and Campbell provide quality depth.

Key issues: 1. Who ultimately starts at weak-side linebacker in the opener against Minnesota? Holdman because McIntosh is a rookie — and even Carlos Rogers and Sean Taylor didn’t start in their first games — and he missed the June minicamp with a knee injury, and because Clemons is working behind Washington at the strong-side spot. The fact Holdman is back comes as a surprise because he wasn’t productive — he had 15 tackles in his first seven starts last year.

2. Should fans expect more of the same from Marshall? Absolutely. He should be even better this year, now that he has had a year in the starting lineup and a year trying to mesh with what Williams and linebackers coach Dale Lindsey want from him. He had four interceptions last year — look for that number to improve this year.

Tomorrow: Defensive backs

Got a question about the Redskins? Starting in training camp, the Times will be running a weekly Redskins Mailbag. Send questions to Ryan O’Halloran at skinsmailbag@washingtontimes.com

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