In a training camp with few positional battles, all eyes are focused on the weak-wide linebacker position. It's perhaps the only position that is open, in terms of playing time.
Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams characterized the competition at weak-side linebacker as "a good, heated battle." Warrick Holdman and rookie Rocky McIntosh are the headliners among a group of linebackers battling for playing time at the position.
"Warrick has done very well and Rocky is improving daily," Williams said following Tuesday morning's practice. "Chris Clemons is in the mix and Khary Campbell is in the mix. The guy who is playing the best will play the most, but we have packages for every guy and the strength that he brings."
In Williams's defensive packages, any number of players could fill in at the weak-side position.
"The position is not only a linebacker," he said. "If you follow the packages we put out there, a safety plays that spot, a corner plays that spot, a defensive end plays that spot.
"And what kind of linebacker plays that spot? Is it a big, thick linebacker, or is it a skinny, fast linebacker. So we've had a lot of different people rotating in that spot--and we'll continue to do that."
Williams praised McIntosh's skills and demeanor. But he stressed that the rookie linebacker from Miami has plenty to learn.
"Rocky can do some things that some other linebackers can't do," Williams said. "He has to get the verbiage [of the defensive packages] down and he has the scheme-study down. But he brings a punch. He can separate and run off a block as well as any linebacker. He may be the best linebacker I've seen in terms of getting off a block and accelerating."
McIntosh was low-key about the competition when asked about it on Monday.
"I'm just starting to get my opportunity to help the team," he said. "If that means starting, then that's how I'll help the team."
-- SELLERS RETURNS TO PRACTICE
#### -- COOLEY AND FANTASY FOOTBALL
Like most football fans, Chris Cooley is gearing up for a fantasy football draft. Wait a minute...Chris Cooley plays real football. It's not fantasy to him. Right?
"I had Clinton [Portis] on my team last year," Cooley said. "Someone in my league picked up Santana [Moss] early, and I was like, 'That's interesting.' It worked out for him."
Did Portis know that Cooley had drafted him for his fantasy league team?
"I didn't say too much," Cooley said. "No one cared."
Of course, Cooley was occasionally placed in the position of rooting for a Portis touchdown so he could accumulate fantasy points.
Which raises the question: Did he ever root for a Portis score while he was on the field?
"Throw the ball to me," he laughed. "I'd rather catch a touchdown in a real game than get fantasy points."