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Brandon Meriweather has landed as the starter for Washington, but the roulette wheel is still spinning.
Washington free safety David Amerson (39) celebrates with strong safety Brandon Meriweather (31) after returning an interception from Oakland quarterback Matt Flynn for a 45-yard touchdown in Oakland, Calif., Sunday.
Associated Press | File September
Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy (25) leaps over Washington cornerback E.J. Biggers as he breaks free for a touchdown run in Landover, Md.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
ASHBURN — Washington Redskins assistant coach Raheem Morris spent Tuesday afternoon making video montages for the team’s defensive backs.
He divided them into two portions.
“We put together all their M.A.D. plays — that’s “make a difference” plays, and show them those,” Morris said. “Then we also put together their loafs, their mental mistakes, and show them those as well.”
Morris oversees the Washington safeties, and he’s cycled through four players in four games this season, having received varying levels of production from each of them.
The roulette wheel has stopped on Brandon Meriweather for the time being. He’s emerged as the team’s starter, and is the lone safety on the field when the Redskins stack up against the run.
On the outs is Bacarri Rambo, who hasn’t played the last two games. Morris cited the rookie’s propensity for missing big tackles.
Missed tackles have been an epidemic for the entire defense this season, but as Morris knows, they’re more noticeable when they happen in the secondary.
“Nobody cares about who missed the tackle in the B-gap [on the line],” Morris said. “They all want to know who missed the tackle down the field by the hash marks that allowed it to become a touchdown. We’ve got to be ready to deal with those things, and that stress comes with the job.”
That’s one of the reasons he likes Meriweather even though the oft-injured veteran has already hurt two players this year with his tackling style.
“He’s a guy who provides veteran leadership,” Morris said. “A guy that’s been back there before, that’s actually been in the fire and played.”
Another veteran player, Reed Doughty, saw his first extended action Sunday against Oakland.
Doughty has been a mainstay in the Redskins’ lineup, either as a starter or as a backup who is called on early in the season.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said the matchups on Sunday were favorable to Doughty, who graded out well despite missing five tackles.
“We’re trying to utilize our players based on personnel in the best way we can,” Haslett said.
The fourth safety, E.J. Biggers, has a burst of speed, but is being used in a flex role.
Morris said Biggers played five different positions against Oakland — free safety, strong safety, right cornerback, left cornerback and nickel back.
“He’s become an insurance package for me,” the coach said. “Whoever gets hurt, he goes in.”
That insurance seems to be particularly crucial this year at safety, especially given Meriweather’s recent spate of injuries. Since training camp began, he’s suffered a head injury, a shoulder injury and a groin injury as well as continuing his comeback from knee surgery.
As for Rambo, his season isn’t over. While Morris wasn’t pleased with Rambo’s early-season play, the rookie could find himself on the field once again.
“His time is coming,” Morris said. “I told you guys when I first got here, it takes about three safeties to get through a season, because they bang themselves up. He’s got to be ready to go when his turn comes again.”
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