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New Competition In New-Look Secondary

Posted Apr 13, 2012

The Redskins have added five free agents in the secondary, including safety Madieu Williams. Redskins.com's Gary Fitzgerald evaluates the new-look cornerback and saefty positions.


Since the start of free agency, the Redskins have added a host of defensive backs, giving the secondary a new look heading into 2012.

The team brought in free agent cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Leigh Torrence and free agent safeties Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson and Madieu Williams.

It's a real possibility the Redskins may also address cornerback and safety in the April 26-28 NFL Draft as well.

Here’s a look at how both positions shake out in the Redskins' secondary:

SAFETY

Of the newcomers in the secondary, Meriweather appears to be the only one assured of a starting job in 2012. He is a two-time Pro Bowler at strong safety.

Griffin has played cornerback in his 6-year career, but some believe he has the ability to play free safety. He could very well see action there, but that decision must work itself out this offseason.

The preseason competition to watch could be between Jackson and Williams.

Both are free safeties.

Jackson, a Silver Spring, Md., native is a 6-year NFL veteran. He signed with the Redskins on Friday.

Jackson has started 56 regular season games and recorded 239 tackles, 10 interceptions, five forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. He has also scored two defensive touchdowns.

Williams, a Lanham, Md., native who played college football at Maryland, is an 8-year NFL veteran. He signed with the Redskins on Wednesday.

Williams has played for three NFL teams, including the San Francisco 49ers last year, and recorded 498 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 12 interceptions and 43 passes defended.

Second-year player DeJon Gomes, a strong safety in college at Nebraska, started the last four games of the 2011 regular season at free safety. He could compete for a starting job at both positions.

Once again, Reed Doughty returns as a reliable swing safety. He has played both free and strong in his career.

The 6-year veteran, one of the longest-tenured current Redskins, faces increased competition this offseason. Don’t count him out, though.

CORNERBACK

DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are expected to return as the starters. They played a key role in helping the Redskins post the 12th-best pass defense in the league last year.

New additions Griffin and Torrence should help boost competition at for nickel and dime cornerback jobs.

Kevin Barnes, the Redskins’ 2009 third-round draft pick, served as a nickel cornerback last year and posted 26 tackles and two interceptions. He has experience playing safety from the 2010 season and that versatility could benefit him.

Griffin brings more starting experience, however. He started 14 of 16 games for the Vikings last year and logged 67 tackles, one interception, nine passes defended and three forced fumbles.

Torrence returns for a second stint with the team. He previously played for the Redskins from 2006-08 as a reserve before moving on to the New Orleans Saints.

Torrence has served in a backup role most of his career. He has special teams experience – he logged 35 tackles on punt and kickoff coverage for the Redskins in the 2007-08 seasons – and that could give him a leg up when it comes time for roster decisions.