Gregg Williams wants his defense to improve in a hurry. Literally.
During his mini-camp media session on Saturday, Williams said several times that he wanted his defense to play faster and more aggressive.
One player who he thinks has those attributes is in outside linebacker Rocky McIntosh, who stands to see increased playing time in 2007.
Williams had all sorts of complimentary things to say about second-year linebacker McIntosh, the 6-2, 227-pound Miami product who showed bursts of talent late in 2006.
"If I had to choose a person who has worked almost as hard as Jason Campbell in the offseason, it would be Rocky," Williams said, matter-of-factly. "He's been here on weekends, he's been here every day of the week.
"The things I thought he had hesitancy with last year--such as the coverage elements--he has more than made up for with that in his understanding of the game."
Added Williams: "Rocky's had a phenomenal camp. He may be the top guy on the defensive side of the ball who has flashed this spring. His speed and anticipation of the opponent's offensive concepts have been outstanding. I hope that will transition into that second-year blossoming."
As a rookie, McIntosh started in Weeks 16 and 17, recording 10 tackles each time out. He had 23 tackles overall, 28 on special teams. His special teams effort was second on the club to Khary Campbell's 37 special teams stops.
In 2007, McIntosh will be trying to crack the starting lineup full-time. Last year, he didn't get the opportunity to start until Marcus Washington was forced to the sidelines with December injuries.
McIntosh missed Friday's mini-camp practice due to the birth of his son last week, but he returned to Redskins Park on Saturday and joined teammates.
Giving an update on his defense, Williams, now in his fourth season with the Redskins, said: "Our team speed right now is the highest it's ever been since I've been here. There will be people out here this year who won't make our team but will make other teams. That just shows the depth we have right now."
He added: "It's very important for our linebackers to be difference-makers. We need those big plays out of those positions. Please don't take your eyes off of Rocky McIntosh. I think he's going to make some big plays this year.
"In Rocky, we see what we thought we were going to get when we drafted him [in 2006]. There's an acclimation phase with any young player coming into the league. At the linebacker position, sometimes that can be overwhelming.
"Rocky's done a tremendous job of gaining a large understanding of our defense, and we look forward to what he can produce."
McIntosh will play alongside a veteran in new middle linebacker London Fletcher.
Fletcher can help tutor McIntosh to fine-tune his game.
Williams called the transition with Fletcher virtually seamless, adding: "There's a reason why he's been one of the most productive linebackers in the league over the past five years.
"London plays sideline to sideline. He doesn't come in and force his leadership, but people see how hard he plays and how much time he puts in to his work."