5 Things I Like About the 2004 Redskins

Not everything is about Joe Gibbs, his coaching staff, Sean Taylor or Clinton Portis. Other players could end up to be just as important, mainly because they'll do the so-called little things to help the Redskins.

1. Walter Rasby. I loved him when he was here the first time and he should be exactly what Gibbs wants: a hard-working, solid-blocking tight end. One reason the Redskins ran the ball well under Marty Schottenheimer was because of Rasby. I like that Rasby can line up in the slot and still block effectively -- watch how many tight ends can do that. Here's a hint: few can. With a back like Portis, who can spring one at any time, a player like Rasby becomes a big deal, even if few will notice him.

2. Michael Barrow. I don't know how much he has left. But I know that he can help the Redskins. Barrow is not a playmaker, never has been. However, he is what the Redskins need: a smart, dependable middle linebacker. Remember how many titles the Redskins won with such players at this position? Barrow's study habits, and familiarity with Gregg Williams (a former position coach of his with the Titans) should make him more effective than Jeremiah Trotter. Barrow won't get caught napping, nor will he be caught out of position. With Mr. Freelance on one side of him that is huge. Knowing that he'll play his assignments helps coaches devise better plans. Barrow can be a leader, though in New York players were divided on him because of his strong religious beliefs. Here, his play and work ethic will elevate him into a leadership role.

3. Danny Smith. OK, I said no more about the coaching staff. But that goes for the high-profile guys, not the special teams coach. And the latest special teams coach is one of the most enthusiastic. Special teams practice can be a drag for those involved -- more than half would rather be doing something else. So having a guy like Smith, who has a strong presence during workouts, makes a difference. It's always fun to play for a high-energy guy like him. The Redskins haven't had a special teams coach like him in a while. Enthusiasm alone won't get the job done, but if he can get a few more guys fired up about playing on these units it will help.

4. James Thrash. We've talked a lot about him, but it all bears repeating. A receiver who isn't among the top two or three had better find ways to contribute. Thrash does. He's willing to do whatever he can to help the team, whether that's block defensive backs or play special teams. And he gives the Redskins excellent depth at this position. I'm not sure what the Redskins will get from Taylor Jacobs this season (though I like his added size) and I don't know if Darnerien McCants will stay where he is or continue to develop. But I know what Thrash can do. And I know that he can help.

5. The H-back. How cool is it to hear that term almost every day now? I like that he Redskins seem to have good choices at this position, or at least can piece together productivity from a few different players. Mike Sellers is intriguing because he's big, relatively fast and can catch. But it makes me wonder why he hasn't played in a couple years (drug problems in Cleveland didn't help). Brian Kozlowski should be fine and his veteran savvy can only help rookie Chris Cooley develop. And how can a guy named Kozlowski not be tough. Not sure about Kevin Ware -- he looked too paunchy during minicamp. He can block, but I don't like players ballooning so much in the offseason. Still, I like the potential at this spot.

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