RICHMOND—Bacarri Rambo’s struggles with open field tackling as a rookie were well documented.
A year later, the Redskins’ safety is still battling those “demons,” according to secondary coach Raheem Morris.
“It’s not his tackling in the box,” Morris said this week. “It’s not his tackling when he has angles. It’s his open field tackling when he’s by himself and you got to get that guy on the ground. As we all know, all of those tackles are ugly. You’re supposed to get run over slow and hold onto a body part and get up with it. It is what it is. And you have to be willing to do that over and over again.”
Last season, Rambo opened the season as the Redskins’ starting free safety before his tackling problems led to his benching. The Georgia product played in only seven more games the rest of the season. Rambo was credited with 32 tackles and 10 missed tackles, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Rambo’s performance in camp so far has been mixed. He’s had at least one interception and a handful of defended passes. But he also whiffed twice in an open-field tackling drill last week.
On Monday, Rambo was listed on the team’s unofficial depth chart as the second string free safety behind veteran Ryan Clark. But both Morris and Head Coach Jay Gruden made it sound as though Rambo needs a strong preseason to ensure a spot on the 53-man roster. The safeties behind Rambo on the depth chart are Akeem Davis, Trenton Robinson and Ross Madison.
“He’s got to learn that phase, and he’s got to be ready to do it in the preseason,” Morris said of the open field tackling. “He’s got to go prove himself. He’s got some demons. We seen the demons last year in the Tennessee [preseason] game, the [missed tackle] against Chris Johnson. We seen another demon against No. 7 [Michael Vick] at Philly. We’ve seen these demons come out in open grass. That’s what you have got to find out.”
Asked about Rambo’s progress, Gruden said: “He is where he is. He’s playing. He’s trying to get better. But he’s another guy that it’s going to be very important to see how he does in the preseason games and if he’s improved his tackling. That’s very, very important. He’s got great ball skills. He’s got a good feel for the position. He’s playing with a little more confidence, which helps, so hopefully he can bring along the tackling with the [other] strides he’s made.”