- The Washington Times - Friday, June 16, 2006

In collective bargaining language, the only mandatory portion of the Washington Redskins’ offseason starts today with a weekend minicamp.

But realistically, the mandatory activities started with workouts in early March and especially last month when organized team activities began.

“Is that voluntary? Yes,” defensive tackle Joe Salave’a said. “But you’re putting yourself in better position to compete for a job and making the roster by being here because the coaches weigh everything when making those decisions.”

So for the last two months, a majority of the roster has labored at Redskin Park, either in the weight room, video room or on the practice field. Veterans say it’s become a necessity because training camp centers on preparing the starters for the opener and finding which players will fill reserve roles.

“With the way the schedule is set up now, the bulk of the work is taking place during the OTAs and other work,” Salave’a said. “Once you get into training camp, it’s about putting the game plans together.”

And the coaching staff is always watching.

“The coaches have their hands full,” safety Pierson Prioleau said. “Once you come to camp, it’s all about the first game, but they also have to get the roster set. That’s why they evaluate us during the OTAs because they can see who’s getting better and who might be ready to step up in camp.”

For the Redskins’ defense, working in the same system for the third consecutive year, the offseason has represented equal parts reinforcement (for the holdovers) and introduction (for the new players).

The Redskins ended last season with 19 defensive packages. When workouts and meetings began this spring, the coaches started reinstalling each of the packages, fresh with some tweaks. This allows newcomers such as Andre Carter and Adam Archuleta to sit side by side and discuss the system with teammates such as Salave’a and Shawn Springs.

“OTAs is a very important time because it’s when you start to jell as a team,” Prioleau said. “Anytime you tweak the scheme, you need opportunities to work on it as a group. Fortunately, we have a lot of the same guys back, but we do have Andre and Adam and a couple of young guys that are new and we’ve worked a lot with them already.”

Main issues for the defense include how the ends (Renaldo Wynn and Phillip Daniels) will rotate with Carter’s addition and who replaces LaVar Arrington at weak-side linebacker.

The offense, meanwhile, has been in learning mode this offseason. Al Saunders was given $2 million a year to make the Redskins more potent on offense, and according to quarterback Jason Campbell, most of the passing offense is new.

Campbell, the No. 3 quarterback last year, is competing with newcomer Todd Collins for the No. 2 role. Both will get snaps with the first-team this weekend because Mark Brunell remains sidelined with a broken finger.

Campbell’s time was limited last preseason because coach Joe Gibbs wanted to make sure Brunell and Patrick Ramsey got into some kind of rhythm. Gibbs already has indicated he wants Campbell to get extensive playing time this August.

“I’m getting more reps and I’m trying to take advantage and learn on the job,” Campbell said. “And that’s the best way to learn — being on the field and going through it. I want to capitalize on this chance.”

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