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Holdman: Dawn of the Dead

Holdman: Dawn of the Dead

At the end of the 2005 season, it appeared certain that Warrick Holdman did not have a future with the Washington Redskins. After the Redskins took him back after exploring some alternatives, it appears that Holdman is back from the dead and ready to fight for a starting job at the open weak side linebacker spot.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

About a year ago, Warrick Holdman’s NFL career seemed to be doing quite well. He had just come on board with the Redskins at the age of 29 with 61 career starts under his belt. There were two starting jobs in play as weak side starter LaVar Arrington was still recovering from a knee injury and middle linebacker Antonio Pierce had bolted to the New York Giants via free agency. Holdman was reunited with linebackers coach Dale Lindsey, under whom he had enjoyed his best seasons in Chicago.

When the season started, he found himself at the periphery of the Arrington controversy as he continued to start in place of a healthy LaVar. Eventually Holdman found himself square in the middle of the storm as he struggled on the field. He often appeared to be lost in the defense. Here is what was said about him here after the Redskins’ Week 8 36-0 blowout loss to the Giants:

And this is not an isolated poor performance. Holdman has started all seven games this year, has played the lion’s share of the defensive snaps and yet they need to put out an Amber alert for him. He has 15 tackles. Yes, a small fraction over two a game for a starting NFL linebacker. You can fall on piles or tag runners who have fallen down and get that many.

After his performance in the Meadowlands blowout Holdman found himself parked firmly at the end of the bench. When the season ended he became an unrestricted free agent. Joe Gibbs frequently mentioned a list of the team’s free agents that the team wanted to bring back; Holdman’s name never was mentioned. The other 31 NFL teams, all of which had Holdman’s 2005 performance documented on film, took a pass on him as well. After free agency began he was unemployed and, apparently, unwanted.

Then after about a month, Holdman’s fortunes began to turn. The Redskins had released Arrington and wanted a veteran on the weak side to compete for the job with the inexperienced Chris Clemons and whatever linebacker the Redskins might draft (that turned out to be Rocky McIntosh). They brought in a few mid-level free agents and made some offers, but nobody bit. So in mid April the Redskins turned to Holdman who was, to use the words of Steve Spurrier when explaining the preponderance of former Florida Gators on the Redskins roster, cheap and available.

Brought back from the dead and given another chance, Holdman is making the most of it. Last year he wasn’t signed until the middle of May and he admitted that he was out of shape. “I had been in free agency, going on trips, eating steak and wining and dining,” he said.

When you’re with Gibbs’ Washington Redskins, May is not the time you need to start getting yourself in to shape. You’re already hopelessly behind at that point. He reported to minicamp last year at 240 pounds. Holdman came in this year at 233.

He knows that his performance last year was not up to snuff. "I owe the Redskins from last season," he said.

Gregg Williams has rewarded Holdman’s efforts by putting him at the top of the depth chart going in to training camp. “Warrick right now is having a great camp,” said Williams during minicamp. “His suddenness without the pads on is excellent. Right now, Warrick has done the best job coming out of this camp with Roger and Chris breathing right down his neck.”

A lot can happen in camp, and Holdman’s status as the starter is far from secure. However, the fact that he occupies the top spot on the depth roster is quite surprising if not miraculous.

A year ago it appeared that Mark Brunell’s career as a Redskin was all but over. After a horrid 2004 that ended with him firmly on the bench, there was no reason to believe that he would contribute anything in 2005. Redskins fans cringed at the thought of Brunell ever have to take a meaningful snap for Washington. At minicamp, however, Brunell showed improved arm strength. Twenty minutes in to the season, he was the starter who would eventually lead the Redskins into the playoffs.

A month or so ago the thought of Holdman lining up at weakside LB was a cringe moment for Redskins fans as well. Is Holdman’s solid 2006 minicamp a precursor to a similar story of redemption for a veteran?

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Lucky Whitehead a victim of mistaken identity according to police

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Lucky Whitehead a victim of mistaken identity according to police

It's been a confusing stretch for Cowboys receiver Lucky Whitehead. 

The charges against the Bealeton, Virginia native have now been dropped, after it was determined by Prince William County Police that Whitehead is not the man accused of shoplifting at a convenience store in Woodbridge, Virginia on June 22.

Here's the full statement released Tuesday:

Upon reviewing the June 22, 2017 arrest of an individual named “Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr.”, the police department is confident that the man charged with petit larceny, and who is subsequently being sought on an active warrant for failure to appear in court, is not Lucky Whitehead of the Dallas Cowboys.

The man charged on the morning of June 22 was not in possession of identification at the time of the encounter; however, did verbally provide identifying information to officers, which included a name, date of birth, and social security number matching that of Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr. Officers then checked this information through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database.

The DMV photo on file was then used to compare to the man who was in custody. Officers acted in good faith that, at the time, the man in custody was the same man matching the information provided. At this point, the police department is also confident in confirming that Mr. Whitehead’s identify was falsely provided to police during the investigation.

The police department is currently seeking the identity of the man involved in the incident. Since the identifying information provided by the arrestee during the investigation was apparently false, the police department is working with the Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to clear Mr. Whitehead from this investigation. The police department regrets the impact these events had on Mr. Whitehead and his family. 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Cowboys hadn't officially released Whitehead on Monday, despite reports to the contrary. 

 

Although it's looking like he still may be looking for a new home.

 

 

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Redskins 2017 training camp preview—defense

Redskins 2017 training camp preview—defense

RICHMOND— The Redskins will assemble here tomorrow to get ready to get ready for the 2017 season. There are plenty of position competitions and other storylines. Here is a look at what we at CSN will be paying attention to. The key points on offense were published earlier; here’s a look at the defense.

Rebuilding the line

In a way, the situation on the D-line is similar to the one at wide receiver in that free agency and a release has created some holes. Chris Baker, the team’s best defensive lineman last year, left for Tampa Bay as a free agent and Ricky Jean Francois, arguably the second-best DL last year, was cut.

This is not all bad news. The wide receivers were one of the strengths of the team. The D-line was one of the weak spots so perhaps doing some major renovating there is just what the unit needs.

RELATED: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

The big move was one they really hadn’t planned on. Defensive end Jonathan Allen was projected by many to be a top-10 draft pick. But he slipped right into the Redskins’ lap with the 17th pick. He gets to work on Thursday and the sooner he can get up to NFL speed the better. They also signed two free agents in Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain and they re-signed Ziggy Hood. As with Allen, their roles will be determined over the course of the next few weeks of practice and during the preseason games.

Nobody knows who is going to end up playing nose tackle. It could be McGee, Hood, former first-round pick Phil Taylor or one of the 2016 practice squad members, Joey Mbu or A. J. Francis. The fact that there is no obvious candidate is troubling and perhaps a sign that the line will show only marginal improvement this year.

Starters at ILB

The Redskins got an upgrade here late in free agency with the signing of Zach Brown, who was last seen playing in the Pro Bowl for the Bills. How he fits in with incumbent starters Will Compton and Mason Foster remains to be seen. All three are likely to earn substantial playing time and who plays in what situation will be sorted out here in Richmond.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, 11-20

Adjustments at safety

The Redskins could be set at safety for the next several seasons. Or they could be scrambling to make adjustments by midseason. Su’a Cravens moves to strong safety from outside linebacker. He may be a step slower than the ideal for his position and he needs to make up for it by being, as he likes to say, assignment perfect. The Redskins signed D. J. Swearinger, who has been a strong safety for most of his career, to play free safety.

When the dust settles, they could be the best safety tandem the Redskins have had in years. Or they could be showing the effects of trying to put square pegs into round holes.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.