Per the Official Site:
Fletcher is expected to move into the middle linebacker position. It's possible that Lemar Marshall, last year's starter in the middle, and second-year player Rocky McIntosh will compete for playing time at weak-side linebacker.While I recognize the qualifier "possible" as just that, this is pretty believable since it is consistent with everything the team has done to keep McIntosh off the field over the past year. Evidence:
- Despite Warrick Holdman chronically underachieving week in and week out, McIntosh was unable to get into the starting lineup until the last two games of the 2006 season. And even then it wasn't because he won that spot straight up -- Holdman replaced an injured Marcus Washington on the strong side and the void on the weak side had to be filled by somebody.
- Acquisition of London Fletcher frees up Lemar Marshall who has played the Will in Washington and is unquestionably an upgrade over Holdman. If McIntosh could not steal position from Holdman I wonder whether he could do so against Lemar.
- The Redskins made an official offer to the Bears for Lance Briggs, who would take McIntosh's spot on the defense. Had Da Bears accepted, we would be talking about McIntosh competing with Lemar Marshall for the backup WLB position.
- Official site says that Lemar Marshall and McIntosh will enter competition for position, hardly a ringing endorsement for Rocky. I don't mind a fair competition, but no one is talking about Marcus Washington having to earn his spot on the strong side. Nor is newcomer London Fletcher being taken to task for his starting job, which is presumed.
Also, either good news or else smoke up my bum per the same article:
Williams also pointed to improvement from first-year players Joe Sykes, a defensive end, and Lorenzo Alexander, a defensive tackle, this offseason. Both Sykes and Alexander participated in the Rookie Camp.It is always good to hear a coach speak confidently about his players. But if Sykes and Alexander are the answers to our recent defensive line woes, that does little to alleviate said concerns. Even if both have huge overachieving years in '07, don't expect them to make much more than rotation-level contributions, defensively. Prove me wrong, guys.
Both were undrafted last year. Sykes played and recorded a tackle against the Giants last year. Lorendo Alexander was on the practice squad all year and was signed up this January. Even with positive strides, it's a real stretch to presume either of these guys are replacement level players on the line. If they see significant field time, it's due to injury.