- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

Warrick Holdman figured he wasn’t the only one unsatisfied with his performance for the Washington Redskins last season. So he was a little surprised the team wanted to re-sign him this spring.

“I felt like I could do it last year, I just wasn’t doing it,” said Holdman, who started seven games but made just 23 tackles in his first season with the Redskins. “That could be attributed to [poor] conditioning, not knowing the defense. Whatever it was, I didn’t get the job done.”

Holdman is not only back, he is tentatively set to fill the weak-side vacancy created when three-time Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington left in March — even though Holdman hardly resembled the Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker he was with the Chicago Bears before he injured his left knee in 2002. Rocky McIntosh is the only credible alternative now that pass-rushing specialist Chris Clemons has been switched to the strong side behind Marcus Washington.

“Warrick is having a great camp,” said assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams. “His suddenness without pads on is excellent. Right now, Warrick has the edge.”

Despite the lack of experienced competition, the 30-year-old Holdman is far from secure in his status as a starter.

“I’m in better shape and I know the defense a little better so I feel more comfortable, but I can’t go in saying it’s my job to lose,” said the 233-pound Holdman, who’s about 10 pounds lighter than he was last season. “I have to bust my butt every day. Rocky’s younger and faster. He was in high school when I was in the NFL. [Linebackers coach Dale Lindsey] challenged me. He asked me whether I wanted to be the linebacker I was in Chicago or the linebacker I was last year.

“It’s all up to me. I owe the Redskins for last year. I know they expected more of me. That wasn’t me. I owe them a good season.”

Clemons, who tore a ligament in his right knee Dec. 24 and finished last season on injured reserve, said he is disappointed he won’t have a shot to compete on the weak side with Arrington gone.

“I would like to be playing the [weak side], but once they brought Warrick back, they asked me to go to the [strong side],” said the 24-year-old Clemons, who slipped from three sacks to two and improved from only seven tackles to nine in 2005 even though he played in twice as many games. “I’m still finding my way over there. You’ve got to do so many things. I’m coming along in pass coverage. It’s really the more athletic position. I have to prove that I can really play linebacker at this level. And I have to excel on special teams. That’s the only way I’m going to make this team.”

Williams agreed.

“Chris has shown he can rush the passer,” he said. “He’s got to be stouter against the run, and he’s got to make more plays on special teams.”

McIntosh will make the team, but he wasn’t able to work this weekend after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Thursday. He’s expected to be 100 percent when training camp starts July 31.

“Last week, the light went on for Rocky,” Williams said. “He was really having some great practices. He did about three or four things that were the best of any linebacker since I’ve been here.”

McIntosh is enough of a competitor that he wants to start, but he also knows that neither safety Sean Taylor nor cornerback Carlos Rogers opened his rookie season as a starter, even though each was drafted in the top 10.

“I’m just trying to fit in and help the team and after that, whatever happens, happens,” McIntosh said.

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