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Friday, July 20, 2007

July 20-- Checking out the LB's

Before I hit the beach for the weekend, I figured I'd continue a look by position at the revamped linebacker core...

Gone is the potential playmaker of a LaVar, now what we have is a solid group with what appears to be some depth..
Middle lineacker is London Fletcher, a tackle machine who figures to play prominently in the overall scheme of the defense.. The lack of beef up front and questions about the overall play of the line suggests teams will continue to try to run the ball up the middle on Washington.. What the Skins believe is they have a sure tackler there now, someone who understands gap defense.. Now they hope he is their stopper while attempting to find alternate ways to get to the quarterback..

SLB is Marcus Washington, his role will change dramatically if his body can stay healthy.. Washington has hip surgery after he struggled to get through a year where during pre-game wramups in Houston, a trainer accidentally stretched his hip joint too far.. Washington is said to be 100% but I do expect the team to be very cautious with him and give him some days off.. Washington is planned to be utilized as a rush end at times hoping to find a way to generate a pass rush.. Washington was also on the Juggs gun the other day hoping to improve his skills after numerous drops of potential interceptions..

WLB is Rocky McIntosh, the way Gregg Williams spun his off-season workouts, it made it sound like he's finally come around after being releagted to the bench for the bulk of his rookie season.. This also comes off an off-seaosn where the team openly tried to replace him with Lance Briggs.. McIntosh is very quick and if he gets it, should be a help.. Lemar Marshall figures to fight him for playing time and I would assume that four linebacker will be utilized often if and when Washington plays rush end.. Are you buying what Gregg is selling on Rocky? I'm not, not until I see it.. He has been a work-a-holic this off-seaosn whihc is a good sign..

The aforementioned Marshall will make the team it's prime and most versatile back-up.. He can play any of the three positions and may indeed push Rocky for time at weakside..

Rookie HB Blades comes in with some big hype, some draft experts called him a sixth round steal.. He was the Big East defensive player of the year.. He's got NFL lineage in his family and obviously knows how to play but listed at 5-10, 236, both appearing to be generous numers, his size will be a question. Can he take the NFL punishment, will he Dexter Coakley or Sam Mills, or will be he too small to handle the rigors.. He'll be an interesting one in pre-season to watch..
USC rookie draft pick Dallas Sartz obviosuly has a decent shot of making the team as well considering the lack of true depth.. He looks more then roll then Blades, but it's Blades aggressiveness and speed that makes him a more firm candidate for actual playing time especially on special teams.. Sartz isn't particularly quick, but he has size and has played on a high level collegiate program.. I expect him to be the whipping boy for Gregg Williams this summer..
If nothing else, khary Campbell's play on special teams almost practically ensures him a job..
Kevin Jones and Matt Sinclair are longshots.. Anthony Trucks was on the practice squad for a short period of time last year, he'll need to show vast improvement to have any chance..
This race appears pretty clear cut.. Fletcher, Washington and Rocky start, when the team goes 3-4 or moves Washington up into a pass rush situation, expect a fourth LB Marshall if not having Sean Taylor a little closer to the line should Laron Landry show some promise as the centerfielder.. landry by the way is a gifted blitzer as well..
Marshall is the prime back-up.. I think Blades in in, Campbell should keep his job due to teams but could be in trouble if Blades is a teams demon and Sartz shows big time promise..

OK, have a great weekend, I'm off to the beach for a final rest before camp next Friday..


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