While Bacarri Rambo’s rookie season did not unfold as the Redskins had hoped, the team still has “high hopes” for the second-year safety as mandatory minicamp gets underway this week in Ashburn.
“Don’t expect a Pro Bowler [out of] a rookie safety,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “It’s hard. Very few and far between as far as that position goes. It’s a difficult position. It takes a year or two or three sometimes for those guys to pick up everything.”
Rambo’s struggles in 2013 were well documented.
After starting the first two games, the Georgia product got benched and did not return to the lineup until Week 8. He started just once more—against Kansas City—before ending up on the outs again.
Rambo’s primary deficiency was his tackling. Too many attempted shoulder tackles. Too many whiffs. According to ProFootballFocus.com, in fact, Rambo missed 10 tackles despite his limited playing time (340 snaps). His failure to contribute more on special teams didn't help, either.
But, according to Gruden, Rambo has made strides this offseason.
“The more reps he gets in these OTA sessions and training camp and [the] preseason, you build on the experience each week and every year,” Gruden said. “It’s going to make him a better player. We have high hopes for him.”
Gruden added: “He’s got great ball skills. He’s not afraid to tackle. He’s got to do a better job tackling. Obviously, we missed too many tackles as a group last year, not just him but everybody, so we think he’s progressing nicely.”
Progressing, however, must turn into performing. And soon. Because Rambo faces increased competition as training camp looms.
The Redskins signed free agent Ryan Clark and re-signed Brandon Meriwether to be the starters. Fellow 2013 draft pick Phillip Thomas has recovered from the foot injury that erased his rookie season and has been impressive. And then there are the X-factors, Tanard Jackson and Akeem Davis. Jackson is working his way back from a two-year suspension, while Davis, an undrafted player out of Memphis, has opened eyes this offseason.
Last season, the Redskins kept five safeties when they cut down to 53 players in late August. Rambo, 23, has worked most with the second stringers during OTAs, though he has taken some reps with the third team.
“Rambo is still continuing to grow,” Gruden said. “He got some key playing time last year. I think he’s learned from happened last year and he’s hoping to build that experience into better play and more stable play.”