When Roger "Rocky" McIntosh visited with Redskins coaches prior to the NFL Draft, he was greeted with smiles all around.
When he arrived for Rookie Camp this weekend, the smiles were gone. It was time to get down business.
The rookie linebacker, the Redskins' second-round draft choice (35th overall) in the April 29-30 draft, participated in his first NFL practice on Friday afternoon at Redskins Park.
He worked under the tutelage of assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, linebackers coach Dale Lindsey and special teams coordinator Danny Smith.
"They were all nice to me at the beginning, but now they're starting to get a little bit tougher," McIntosh said, smiling. "They're all a little bit harder on you now. They want to see how much you can take and how much you can put out."
McIntosh said the transition from Miami, where he starred at outside linebacker for the Hurricanes, to the NFL level was not difficult.
The challenge, he said, was to adjust to the speed of the game and learn quickly.
"It goes real fast," he said after practice. "They give you a lot of information and they want you to be a sponge and soak everything in. That's what I'm trying to do right now. Football's all the same. You have to make sure that you listen and learn a lot."
Coaches have been tight-lipped about where McIntosh fits in to the picture at weak-side linebacker, but it's expected that he will be in the mix for a starting role at some point.
Historically, Williams has eased rookie defenders into the lineup. Both Sean Taylor, who was McIntosh's teammate at Miami, and Carlos Rogers did not start immediately in their rookie seasons.
Said Lindsey: "[On Friday], Rocky showed flashes of the talent that we expected from him when we drafted him."
Asked about what he foresees for himself in his rookie season, McIntosh replied: "I'm just out here trying to make the team like everybody else. I'm paying attention to what's going on, going out there and performing."
McIntosh has appeared somewhat surprised when it is suggested that he was brought in to replace three-time Pro Bowler LaVar Arrington at weak-side linebacker. Arrington has signed with the New York Giants this offseason.
"That's kind of hard that people want to label me," he said. "But I'm just going to go out there, work hard, listen to the older guys and the coaches, and hopefully I'll play well."