The Redskins’ safeties are getting a makeover this offseason, but one familiar face is second-year player
He faces a pivotal offseason in his development.
Gomes emerged as a starter late last season and he could secure a 2012 starting job with a strong showing in off-season work and in training camp.
The 5-11, 200-pounder finished last season with 30 tackles and two passes defended. He saw action at both free and strong safety.
Earlier this month, the Redskins signed free agent
Elsewhere at safety,
Gomes says it doesn’t matter to him where he lines up in the secondary.
“[Playing both free and strong safety] is pretty much what we all do in the secondary, so it’s not that big of a deal,” he said.
Gomes, a 2011 fourth-round draft pick out of Nebraska, viewed last season as a learning experience.
“Yeah, I definitely learned a lot last year,” he said. “Just getting in there, getting some action and starting a few games as a true safety, I learned a lot from that. I learned a lot from the veterans that are here helping me out. I just continued to learn every day.”
In particular, Gomes said he focused on recognizing pre-snap reads to get a jump on run plays and pass routes.
“The reads are a lot different from back at free safety compared to where I played in Nebraska, which was in the box a lot,” Gomes said. “So you really have to have your eyes right because you’re the last line of defense. You have to make sure you’re doing your responsibility right because there’s no one to erase [a mistake].”
Gomes experienced his share of ups and downs last season – he had a strong showing recording 14 tackles in Week 11 vs. Dallas but struggled with missed tackles and in coverage three weeks later vs. New England.
“DJ is the kind of guy that he gets better and better every time he’s out there,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “We like his athleticism. I think he’s really smart. He’s just hasn’t had a lot of time playing the safety [position] ... So it’s going to be a learning process.
“He’s really good in the box. It’s in the space area – when he’s in the deep half – we have to work on that and make sure we have a good offseason with him.”
Gomes is eager to improve in his second NFL season. He believes having a full offseason with the coaching staff and with teammates should benefit him. Last year’s offseason was abbreviated due to the lockout.
“It’ll definitely help, having those workouts instead of coming in straight to training camp like I did,” he said. “In training camp last year, I had to learn the playbook day by day, and I didn’t really have time to soak it in.
“Now I have a training camp and a season under my belt, coming into off-season workouts this year, I’ll have a greater idea of what’s going on and I’ll be able to learn a lot more.”