The Redskins will be taking a nickel back by committee approach in the wake of the suspension of Cedric Griffin.
All indications are that rookie Richard Crawford and fourth-year player D. J. Johnson will share the nickel and dime back reps situationally and according to who is playing better.
Johnson is a “long, athletic” cornerback, according to Jim Haslett. The Redskins are his fourth NFL team since he caught on with the Giants after coming into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Jackson State in 2009.
This is his second stint with the Redskins. He was on the roster last year but he was inactive for all three games he was there. They signed him to the practice squad in October and moved him up to the 53-man roster during the bye. Although he didn’t play when he was here before the experience is serving him well this time around.
“I had a little bit from last year and it’s pretty much the same scheme for the most part so it’s really not too much different,” he said when asked about his knowledge of the defense. “Terminology, that’s the only difference.”
Crawford was a seventh-round pick of the Redskins this year. He flashed some ability in preseason and made the team. He took over nickel duties when Griffin was out with a hamstring strain earlier in the year and he struggled. He has been inactive for the last five games
“He’s a guy who has great ball skills,” said Haslett. “He’s quick.”
Crawford said that he is ready for the opportunity. “I’m not going to allow myself to be the reason we don’t go to the playoffs”. I’m going to play at a high level if they put me in there.”
Johnson is also anxious to show what he can do. He was asked if he would cut back on his work on special teams. “That’s the name of the game, I’m earning my paycheck,” he said. “If they tell me to go out and cover 10 punts and play 60 snaps that’s what I’m going to do.”
Mike Shanahan said that both players have looked good in practice but the real evaluation won’t come until the “live situation” on Sunday.