- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rocky McIntosh can run and hit, but the Washington Redskins’ weak side linebacker doesn’t like to talk about those skills. In fact, McIntosh, who declined several interview requests for this story, would rather not talk publicly at all.

McIntosh’s season ended with a torn left ACL in December, but that received little attention during a three-week period that included safety Sean Taylor’s death and quarterback Jason Campbell’s knee injury. His teammates, though, noticed his absence.

“The surprising thing about Rocky is that even though he’s a quiet guy, he’ll talk a little smack out there,” strong side linebacker Marcus Washington said. “That’s a football player expressing a different side of his character on the field.”

On the field is where McIntosh itches to be, but the Redskins’ medical staff has allowed him to participate only in a limited fashion during the ongoing organized team activities. Monday marks six months since he hurt his knee, putting him on schedule to return when training camp begins July 20.

“The problem with Rocky is never trying to get him to do stuff,” linebacker coach Kirk Olivadotti said. “It’s making sure that he’s not doing too much. He’s doing everything we ask him to do, if not a little bit more.”

Indeed, McIntosh has sneaked into the defensive huddle for some drills in which he’s not supposed to be involved. The coaches haven’t ordered him to the sideline every time.

“I can definitely relate to what Rocky’s going through,” said Washington, who missed most of last offseason trying to recover from his own physical ailments. “Sometimes an athlete is his own worst enemy because he tries to come back too fast. You’re so used to being in there, the rest of the guys are on the field and you want to be a part of it. When they’ve got to hold you back, that’s definitely a good sign. I just told him to be smart. We’d like him to be out there now, but I told him, ‘We’ll need you when the season starts.’”

After playing mostly on special teams as a rookie in 2006, McIntosh became a starter last year. He totaled 68 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in the first eight games. He had only 19 tackles in the next five games before the injury ended his season, but Olivadotti said the dropoff didn’t bother him. After all, it took the triumvirate of Randall Godfrey, Khary Campbell and H.B. Blades to fill his spot.

“Rocky had opportunities early last season that were kind of obvious,” Olivadotti said. “As the season went on, he was still doing a lot of things that were real good, but some of his opportunities weren’t so out in the open. He played real physical all year.”

That’s something McIntosh likes to do.

“He was starting to really fit his name because he was flying around and rocking guys,” Washington said. “Even when he wasn’t in the right spot, he got there with a bit of an attitude.”

The Redskins have been impressed with McIntosh’s attitude since he was sidelined.

“Rocky never got down,” Campbell said. “He never complained about not being able to play in the playoffs. I know how Rocky feels because I had an ACL, too, [in 2003]. I was back in six and a half, seven months. But there’s coming back the first day and there’s working every day after that. There are going to be times when he has swelling, when he has discomfort. But Rocky’s a tough guy. He’ll deal with it fine.”

Notes - Oft-injured tight end Tyler Ecker had groin surgery Wednesday that should sideline him into August. Receiver Santana Moss was held out because of illness. Cornerback Byron Westbrook sat out with a strained hamstring. …

Running back Clinton Portis and defensive tackle remained absent for personal reasons, while cornerback Shawn Springs skipped his seventh consecutive OTA day without speaking to coach Jim Zorn.

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