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53: Linebackers

53: Linebackers

Brian Orakpo's play at linebacker will be key to the Redskins' D this year

Between now and the start of training camp I'll be making my predictions about who will be on the final 53-man roster for the Washington Redskins--who's there, who's in, who's on the bubble, and who's out. The predicted roster will be revised and updated as preseason events warrant. Today, linebackers:

Who's here Now: (9) Alfred Fincher, Cody Glenn, Robert Henson, Brian Orakpo, Robert Thomas, Darrel Young, London Fletcher, H. B. Blades, Rocky McIntosh.

How many will stick: 7

Starters: Fletcher in the middle, flanked by McIntosh and Orakpo. The Orakpo experiment is the key to the defense this year. If he can play well against the run and not get burned too often in coverage—and don't doubt that Greg Blache will figure out ways to shade some help his way—while playing standing up, the defense could be a truly dominant unit. If things work out as they hope, he may well be playing more end than linebacker because the opposition will be facing a lot of second and long situations. Fletcher started to show some signs of slowing down last year but he's still more than adequate and is Blache's extension on the field. McIntosh is fully recovered from his late '07 knee injury and could have a big year.

Solid backups: Blades, Henson—Blades didn't embarrass himself as a starter, filling in much of the year for Marcus Washington, but he's better suited to coming off of the bench in situational substitutions. Henson has worked at all three linebacker spots and he will play special teams.

Last men on: Thomas, Fincher—Both are valuable, veteran reserves. Fincher is a good contributor on special teams. If they are even in camp but one of them has to go, Fincher is four years younger than Thomas so he probably would get the nod.

First man off: Glenn converted from running back and will have to catch on in a huge hurry if he wants to make it. Outstanding special teams performance could edge him onto the final roster as well. The odds are against it and he likely winds up on the practice squad.

Spots taken so far: 44

Spots Remaining: 9

Next: Defensive backs

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Redskins' Doug Williams presents a special jersey to family of Jim Vance

Redskins' Doug Williams presents a special jersey to family of Jim Vance

On July 22, legendary D.C. broadcaster Jim Vance died at the age of 75.

During the first day of training camp on Thursday, Washington Redskins VP of player personnel Doug Williams, presented NBC4 sports reporter Carol Maloney with a gift for Vance's family.

RELATED: REMEMBERING JIM VANCE

The gesture by the Redskins was one filled with much respect for the award-winning anchor.

Vance was a staple for many D.C. locals, being a full-time anchor since 1972 for NBC4. 

Last summer, Vance revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer but never stopped working. 

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LIVE Redskins training camp practice report: Day 1

LIVE Redskins training camp practice report: Day 1

RICHMOND—The Redskins took the field for their first practice of the season. Jordan Reed is missing as was the usual stifling heat at the Bon Secours training center.It's warm but the humidity is down from the normal late-July sauna here. 

Here are my observations from practice as it unfolds. Come back and refresh often for the latest:

—Jamison Crowder still appears to be the No. 1 punt returner. Also fielding kicks off of the leg of Tress Way were Maurice Harris, Chris Thompson, and Will Blackmon. 

—The Redskins are practicing without pads per collective bargaining rules. A few are wearing shells. 

—New tight end EJ Bibbs just introduced himself to Vernon Davis as they were getting ready for some individual drills. Reminds me of a few year ago when a just acquired player was participating in stretching and they brought his contract out onto the field for him to sign. He wouldn’t have been able to practice otherwise. 

—Kirk Cousins just acknowledged a fan lined up near the sideline. ‘How’s it going, Derrick?” Derrick’s friends were properly impressed. 

—Maurice Harris showed good form in catching a Cousins pass over the middle against no defense. Nothing spectacular but but a good job reaching forward to pull in a pass that was ahead of him. 

—Harris with another nice catch, this time guarded over the middle by Will Blackmon. He is off to a good start in competing for playing time.

—Torian Gray is admonishing his defensive backs to “wake up, wake up.” On one rep he wanted Tevin Homer to “drive to the ball.”

—It looked like Josh Doctson had a step on Bashaud Breeland on a deep pass but the CB recovered and knocked the pass away. 

—A few plays later Doctson got deep again, this time against Quinton Dunbar. This time the CB couldn’t catch up and Doctson hauled in the pass.

—In the early going in 11 on 11, Will Compton and Mason Foster are the inside LBs with the first team and Joey Mbu is at nose tackle. Both situations could change over the course of the next few weeks. 

—Nice cut by Keith Marshall on a run around right end. He planted his foot and cut upfield with some serious burst. He’s a dark horse when it comes to making the roster but I’m keeping an eye on him. 

—Cousins with a dart to Terrelle Pryor along the sideline. A sharp and accurate throw. 

—Rain is approaching but it should hold off until practice is over. Meanwhile, the clouds and breeze are cooling things down. Nobody is complaining.  

—Pryor was assigned to block Josh Norman on a running play. Norman made a business decision not to contest the block and there was light contact as Norman backed down the field.

—Rookie Robert Davis made a solid back-shoulder catch on the sideline. I’m not sure if Colt McCoy intended for the pass to be back shoulder but that was where it went and Davis reached to make the grab. 

—What was that? Nate Sudfeld heaved one downfield to nobody in particular. Kendall Fuller got an easy interception, his second of the day. 

—That is from Richmond for today. Come on back tomorrow, we’ll do it again.