Can Redskins make Richmond feel like home?
Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ depth chart.
Some battles are straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Aug 31.
So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …
Position: Strong safety
On the roster: Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, DeJon Gomes, Jordan Pugh, Jordan Bernstine, Devin Holland
Expected to make the cut: Meriweather, Doughty, Thomas, Rambo
Comment: There are a many question marks at this position as training camp approaches.
Meriweather would appear to be the favorite to start at strong safety Week 1. But that, of course, is contingent on the health of his surgically repaired right knee
Meriweather played only one half of football last season because of knee ailments. But what a half it was. Against the Eagles in Week 11, the 29-year-old recorded seven tackles, broke up two passes and intercepted another.
Meriweather missed entire the offseason program while rehabbing, but is expected to be on the field when training camp begins July 25.
In 2012, Gomes replaced Meriweather in the starting lineup early on. Doughty, though, finished the season as the starter, playing opposite free safety Madieu Williams, who is no longer on the team. Even if Meriweather is healthy, both Gomes and Doughty figure to be in mix again because of their versatility and contributions on special teams.
Doughty made the 10th most tackles in the league on kickoff and punt coverage last season (16), while Gomes chipped in with nine.
The wild cards are Thomas, the team’s fourth round draft pick in April, and Rambo, a sixth rounder. Both will make the team, of course, but it’s unclear when they’ll be ready to make an impact and which position they’ll primarily play. Both questions figure to be sorted out in training camp and the preseason.
“We’re saying Rambo is a free safety and Phillip is a strong safety, but it doesn’t really make a difference because they change [based on] the strength, the motions, the shifts, the adjustment,” Haslett said. “We don’t run them across the field so they’re always strong or free, so they’re going to have to know both positions."
Haslett said he does believe it’s likely one of them will be a starter right away.
“I think one of them, yeah, I really do think one of them will be on the grass,” he said. “I’m not sure which one, but one of them, I think, is going to have to.”
Fighting for a job: Gomes, Pugh, Bernstine, Holland
Comment: If one assumes the Redskins will keep five safeties on the 53-man roster, it would appear that veteran holdovers Meriweather and Doughty as well as rookies Thomas and Rambo are locks to make the final cut.
That would leave one job available. Given Gomes’ aforementioned contributions on special teams, the 25-year-old will probably have the edge. Gomes has also made eight NFL starts at safety, giving him a leg up in the experience dept., as well.
Bernstine earned a spot on the 53 as a rookie but suffered a devastating knee injury in the season opener while performing kick coverage duty. The 2012 seventh round pick hopes to be ready for camp.
To earn a roster spot, Bernstine, Pugh and Holland will likely have to stand out on special teams and push past Gomes.