Redskins position battles: Safety

Redskins position battles: Safety
August 17, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Chase Minnifield stands out at Redskins training camp

Tandler - Tarik

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
CSNwashington.com

When Redskins training camp opened more than three weeks ago, there were a handful of question marks at various positions. We still don’t have any firm answers, but after 17 days of practice and a preseason game, we now have some clues.

This weekend, CSN Washington Insiders Tarik EL-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine four of the more intriguing position battles and predict the outcome.

Position: Safety

Outlook: After surrendering more passing touchdowns than all but one team in 2012, fixing the secondary was priority No. 1 for the Redskins this offseason. So far, it looks as though it might be better. If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, well it’s not, because questions persist at safety.

Brandon Meriweather’s knee is still a concern and rookie Phillip Thomas – Meriweather’s heir apparent – has been lost for the season to a Lisfranc injury, raising concerns at strong safety. At free safety, sixth round pick Bacarri Rambo earned first team duty with a strong offseason. But he’s attempting to learn one of the game’s most complex positions on the job. How’s it all going to shake out? The next three preseason games should bring some clarity to the situation.

El-Bashir: Meriweather is the best safety on the roster and Rambo holds the most promise. If Meriweather can get healthy and Rambo bounces back from last Thursday’s uneven effort in Tennessee, I’ve got to believe they’ll be the starters Week 1 against the Eagles. If Meriweather isn’t ready, well, that's when things could get interesting. Versatile veteran Reed Doughty is “Plan B [and] C,” according to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and he could be pressed into a starting role until Meriweather is ready. It’s also possible Haslett will turn to a safety by committee approach as he did during last season's winning streak when he rotated Doughty, Jordan Pugh, DeJon Gomes and Madieu Williams based on package. Ideally, though, Meriweather will get healthy and Rambo’s will get up to speed quickly.    

Tandler: I’m pretty confident that Meriweather will be ready to go on September 9 when the Eagles come to town. But if he does I don’t see him playing all 70+ snaps in the earlier games on the schedule as he’ll need time to work his way into complete football shape. I’m somewhat less confident that he’ll play 16 games. That’s why Doughty and either Gomes or Pugh—or possibly both—are safe. The possibility of a return to that committee approach is pretty strong if only for a few games here and there. The good news is that as long as Meriweather is healthy, a safety tandem of him and Bacarri Rambo has the potential to be pretty strong.