Q&A With: Joe Gibbs

The Redskins' Hall of Fame coach spoke with the media on the eve of training camp, with topics ranging from Sean Taylor (they still don't know if the league will suspend him) to rookie linebacker Rocky McIntosh (agreed in principle to a deal, it was learned after the press conference).

On signing Rocky McIntosh (LB, #52):

Q: What is Rocky McIntosh's status?

A: I think we are very close to a contract with Rocky. I don't think there is anything yet that we can announce, I want to be careful about that. Eric (Scaffer, Director of Football Administration) is working around the clock on that. I don't know if he will be on the field, it will probably be close if I had to guess. I just know that we are really close. On injured players:

Q: Will anyone miss practice time because of injuries?

A: I think we are in really good shape. We had great work with the injured guys. Casey (Rabach, OL, #61) probably was one we were really concerned about. Randy Thomas (OG, #77) has been absolutely outstanding and has been here every single day and working hard. Casey has too, I think he is a little bit further behind, but certainly these guys are ok to take off and go. Mark Brunell (QB, #8) with his finger, he's feeling good about that and ready to go there.

Q: What roster spots are open for competition?

A: Hopefully all of them. You'd like to say everything is open competition. The difference up here in pro sports is that a lot of the guys you are counting on are going to turn around and realize that they are the guy. They aren't going to feel threatened in a lot of cases, but you would hope. We have good depth, we try to be smart. There will be a lot of competitions. I think we have some established guys, but I think we have some guys who are going to make a run at it. Obviously some positions are closer than others, but I don't like to mention where we feel better about some spot over another.

Q: Do you feel more comfortable entering this season?

A: Starting camp we are more settled. The problem up here is that anything can turn the tables on you. I feel much more comfortable then I did the first year. We can build a lot on that. Last year was a tough year. In the middle of the year we were in real trouble and then we turned it around and won six games at the end. We saw leadership with the team. You have a real good feeling about what kind of individuals you have on the team. We are going to lean on them. The coaching staff is going to help them be the best they can be, but certainly for us, sink or swim with your players. I feel good about this group and we love working with them. The off-season is the single best indicator of anything we will do.

Q: You guys likely will see more hype than in the past. How will you deal with that with the players -- embrace it or temper it?

A: First of all, I haven't seen anyone picking us in the division or anything else. For us, I think you've got to earn it every single year. We finished 10-6; we didn't win the division last year. We know what the Giants are capable of; we certainly respect Dallas and I've already mentioned Philly and what we think of them coming back. It's just a common sense approach. Everyone up here will be able to beat everyone else every single day. We have to be smarter in preparation and hopefully go injury free. It's up to our players, but we all know, even last year, what happened. I laugh at our coach's pool. They can't get half of them right. The experts up here, who are they? I can't figure out who they are. Teams are so close, it goes topsy-turvy a lot of times.

Q: Will Jason start any preseason games?

A: He probably won't start. Mark will get all the starts, but [Jason] will play a lot. If I had to say, he'd probably play more than anyone else at quarterback. I hope Mark gets in and looks sharp. You always like to set up that scenario, where the starter looks good and then you can play Jason and Todd.

Q: What is your role in shaping the new offense?

A: Al is directing everything over there, the meetings. We share a lot in common. He looked at everything we did last year; we talked about all the things we did last year. We wound up 11th in the league last year; I thought we did good things. He thought that, too. So there were good things in there. The other thing, I felt like with Al, the familiarity I felt with him, it's not something where he has to prove himself. He's not looking to do his own thing. It's how do we mold together, knowing we believe in a lot of the same things, and maybe take another step up. We'll see. We felt we made real progress and stepped it up last year and now I thought, by analyzing the whole thing, this was another chance to take a step up. We want to stay ahead of everyone else. I felt the best thign to do was step up again on offense.

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