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Camp Competitions: Down to the Wire?

Midway through the third week of training camp, head coach Joe Gibbs and assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams say they have not come any closer to determining starting jobs and roster spots.

Some of the more closely watched training camp competitions could go down to the wire.

"We'll probably be faced with a number of tough decisions," Gibbs said on Tuesday. "Hopefully, you let them play it out on the field."

On offense, Gibbs discussed the third running back as a training camp battle to watch over the next few weeks. Fourth-year running back Rock Cartwright appears to be competing with rookie Nehemiah Broughton for playing time. Both turned in solid performances in the preseason opener at Carolina last Saturday.

Gibbs emphasized that players who make the final roster will have to perform well on special teams over the next three preseason games.

"You're going to have to keep who you think are the best players," Gibbs said. "For me, it's whoever [special teams coordinator] Danny Smith says he needs on special teams and how they look on film."

On the defensive side of the ball, Williams said there is competition at every position--not necessarily for starting jobs, but for playing time in certain defensive packages. He believes the level of competition this year has surpassed last year's training camp.

"We're going to have some interesting battles when it comes down to the final 53 players on the roster," Williams said. "There are some really good battles going on right now. It makes it difficult for coaches to make decisions on which players to keep--which is good."

Probably the most closely watched training camp competition is the middle linebacker position. Lemar Marshall opened camp on the inside, but Warrick Holdman could get a strong look later on in preseason.

Outside linebacker Marcus Washington has also lined up at middle linebacker, although that's more an indication of how much Williams likes to move players around to take advantage of matchups.

Williams mentioned rookie linebackers Robert McCune and Zak Keasey as making favorable impressions in the Redskins' preseason opener at Carolina. First-year player Clifton Smith and rookie Jared Newberry are also in the mix.

Williams indicated that there was a battle brewing at backup defensive tackle. Cornelius Griffin, Brandon Noble and Joe Salave'a will certainly make the roster, but the fourth tackle in the rotation has yet to be determined. Linemen Ryan Boschetti and Cedric Killings impressed Williams in Saturday's preseason game; Boschetti helped block a Panthers' field goal attempt in the first half.

Both Gibbs and Williams will evaluate front-line players during this Friday's preseason game at Cincinnati, but they will be just as focused on evaluating some of the team's new players acquired in the offseason.

Those new players could have an opportunity to prove themselves against quality competition.

Said Williams: "You can't make an opinion on a player who plays at the end of a preseason game against somebody who probably won't make an NFL roster. You have to have them play against NFL-type players. We had a chance to move players up and get them in that situation last week. You're going to see it again this week [against Cincinnati].

"If you make our final roster, you're going to have a chance to start on one of those 19 defensive packages that we play. We are going to try to figure out how we get 11 guys out there to fit the right way against a particular package an opponent puts out there."

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