Shanahan on Reed: "You don't see rookies like that"
Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather is likely to appeal his two-game suspension for repeated violations of player safety rules. But while the process is playing out over the next 24 to 48 hours the team has to come up with a Plan B in the secondary.
After missing the first game while still recovering from 2012 knee injury and leaving the following game in Green Bay early after sustaining a concussion, Meriweather has played every snap of every game. He hasn’t played great but he has been good enough and his versatility has made him a valuable part of the secondary.
Replacing Meriweather would be hard enough if his suspension was an isolated issue. But Reed Doughty, the other starting safety, suffered a concussion against the Bears so his status for the game against Peyton Manning and the Broncos is very much up in the air. Mike Shanahan gave no indication of how serious the concussion was when he was asked during his news conference on Monday.
If Doughty can play he will start. Who will be next to him? Most likely it will be cornerback E. J. Biggers, who started at safety alongside rookie Bacarri Rambo when Meriweather missed the opener. He did not play very well that game against the Eagles but he is the most experienced option.
Cornerbacks Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall also could slide back and play some safety as well. Rambo is also a possibility although he was banished first to the bench and then to the inactive list following his performance in the first two games.
Jose Gumbs has played all of nine snaps at safety but he might have to play a role. Assuming that Meriweather’s suspension sticks, the Redskins would be able to sign a replacement to the roster. A good candidate would be Jordan Pugh, who was part of a rotation at strong safety all of last year and was on this week’s team until he was released a week ago.
If Doughty is also out, that might press one of the inexperienced players into action. That is far from the ideal situation for a secondary about to face Manning but, as the players like to say, it is what it is.
One person who is not an option to help in this situation is suspended safety Tanard Jackson. Even if the NFL decided to reinstate him from his indefinite suspension today—and there is no indication at all that is going to happen—Meriweather’s suspension would be over before Jackson would be able to get back into football shape and practice with the defense enough to be able to contribute.
If all of this sounds a little murky that’s because it is. This isn’t a situation where there is a clear-cut backup who could come in and play Meriweather’s spot. Add on to that the fact that the team is not going to want to reveal its plans in order to keep Manning and the Broncos in the dark.