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Wade Is Leading Candidate at Left Guard

On the offensive side of the ball, you can make the very early statement that things look pretty much set as far as the Redskins' personnel and 2007.

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The lone early question mark, of course, is at the left guard spot now that Derrick Dockery has signed a lucrative deal and departed for Buffalo.

Todd Wade appears to have the inside track on the left side between Chris Samuels and Casey Rabach. Mike Pucillo and Ross Tucker are other candidates.

The Redskins could also address the left guard position in the draft. If assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel likes a lineman near the top of the draft board, then it could be persuasive enough to trade down using the team's No. 6 pick.

Wade, a seven-year veteran, was silent for most of 2006. But when he got his lone shot, on Week 15 at New Orleans, he really made the most of it.

Ladell Betts ran 22 times for 119 yards that day as the Redskins scored a 16-10 upset win on the road against a team that would reach the NFC championship game.

A lot of the yardage Betts was able to pick up versus the Saints came in the vicinity of Wade, who subbed at right tackle for the injured Jon Jansen and didn't give up a sack against a team that has a pair of talented defensive ends in Charles Grant and Will Smith.

If it's Wade who eventually earns the job at left guard, he'll be joining an already solid group and perhaps the Redskins' bright spot in 2006.

Last year the Redskins gave up just 19 sacks. That was third best in the NFL, trailing only Indianapolis (15) and Baltimore (17).

What's more, the ground game by the Redskins was the team's strong suit down the stretch. In the regular-season versus the Giants at FedExField, Betts came within eight yards of registering his sixth straight 100-yard game.

You could do a lot worse than to add the 6-8, 317-pound Wade to a group that already features Samuels, Rabach, Randy Thomas and Jansen.

As far as Wade, he had an exceptional start to his NFL career with the Dolphins between 2000 and 2003 before joining the Houston Texans, where he suffered a serious knee injury in 2005.

Judging by the way he played last Dec. 17 in the Louisiana Superdome, Wade appears ready to get his career back on track. In one memorable scene from the game in New Orleans, Wade not only finished off his block versus Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie but also shoved McKenzie to the sidelines.

At the same time, Wade does face a supreme challenge in that left guard would basically be a new world for him. He's been a right tackle just about exclusively ever since joining the Dolphins in 2000 as a second-round selection (53rd overall) out of Mississippi.

In his rookie season, Wade earned NFL co-Rookie of the Month in October as the Dolphins averaged 154.3 rushing yards over four games.

The other rookie to share that distinction? It was none other than Samuels, who has now of course developed into a four-time Pro Bowler with the Redskins.

Since 2000, Samuels could look to his direct right and see the likes of Keith Sims, Andy Heck, Mookie Moore, Dave Szott, David Loverne, Dave Fiore or Dockery. In 2007, according to early indications, he's likely to gaze there and spot Todd Wade.

Much of the 2007 season, of course, will be riding on the capabilities of third-year quarterback Jason Campbell. So filling in the void left by Dockery's departure is important business.

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