By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
Twenty questions No. 6— Can Brandon Meriweather do what he flashed last year for a full season?
The 2013 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 20 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
Brandon Meriweather was supposed to be the answer for the Redskins at strong safety last year. But he suffered a relatively minor knee injury during the preseason and then aggravated it twice, the second time in a fluke pregame collision with wide receiver Aldrick Robinson. That Week 4 incident delayed his debut until after the bye. He came out like a house of fire against the Eagles, picking off a pass, knocking down two others, and picking up seven tackles. But the performance lasted just 44 snaps as he suffered a torn ACL in the second half. Can the Redskins count on Meriweather, who never missed a game due to injury in his previous five NFL seasons, to deliver that high level of play all year?
Rich Tandler: It sure would solve a lot of problems for the Redskins if Meriweather could play well at strong safety for 16 games. They could bring along fourth-round pick Phillip Thomas slowly and let him play in situations where he can be successful. He could provide the spark to a defense that lacked on for much of the season. However, the Redskins should approach this situation with cautious optimism. Meriweather is only 29 so there is no reason to think that he’s over the hill but his performance has steadily declined since the first Pro Bowl season with the Patriots in 2011. Some of it was a bad scheme fit, especially in Chicago, but you can’t completely separate the player from the play. The Redskins hope that Meriweather has found a good defense and that he can at least help bridge the gap until Thomas is up to speed. But that remains a hope and we’ll have to see on the field if those 44 snaps against the Eagles were the real Brandon Meriweather.
Tarik El-Bashir: Cautious optimism has to be the Redskins’ approach when it comes to Meriweather. Because when he returns, he’ll have to cope with a pair of issues: learning to trust the surgically repaired knee and shaking off the rust that has no doubt accumulated. Trust comes quickly for some (Adrian Peterson) and more slowly for others (Jarvis Jenkins). It's also important to note that Meriweather has played exactly one half of meaningful football since Dec. 18, 2011. Yeah, it was a great half. But that’s all it was. I do think he’s going to be starter at strong safety in Week 1, but I also suspect that Phillip Thomas will begin pushing for playing time sooner rather than later. As Rich said, getting the Meriweather that looked like a Pro Bowler against the Eagles for all 16 games next season would be huge for the Redskins. But until further notice, I’ll be in wait-and-see mode.
Upcoming on 20 questions
- Question 4 Sunday: Who will the depth chart at right tackle look like?
- Question 3 Monday: Is Orakpo primed for a big season?
- Question 2 Tuesday: Who will start at free safety?