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Redskins Plan To Address Safety Situation 'Quickly'

Posted Mar 23, 2016

While Jay Gruden likes the current safeties on the Redskins' roster, the head coach understands that the team does not have enough depth just yet for the 2016 season.

While Jay Gruden likes the current safeties on the Redskins' roster, the head coach understands that the team does not have enough depth just yet for the 2016 season.

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden’s message was loud and clear Wednesday morning during Wednesday’s NFC Coaches Breakfast at the annual NFL Owners Meeting in Boca Raton, Fla.

Gruden likes the safeties that are currently on the roster, but the team needs to add more depth at the position especially with so many questions marks, specifically about health.

“Very concerned, really, if you think about it,” Gruden said of safety depth. “Duke [Ihenacho] and [David] Bruton [Jr.], who we just signed, they’re both coming off injuries. And then D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall] had an injury last year and really that’s the first time he’s played safety. We moved [Deshazor] Everett in their at safety as well. He’s never really played it. So the depth at safety is a little challenging right now. It’s something that we have to address, but we feel good about those prospects.”

Last season, Dashon Goldson started 15 games at safety while the team used Jeron Johnson, Trenton Robinson, Kyshoen Jarrett, Ihenacho and Hall as well in the starting lineup.

Johnson was released on March 7, while Robinson was waived by the Redskins in December before signing with the Carolina Panthers this week.

Gruden indicated that Goldson, who was also released on March 7 due to his contract size, could return, but nothing is set in stone.

“We haven’t shut the door yet on Dashon,” Gruden said. “I know there’s been some talks with him also. So that’s Scot’s and Eric Schaffer’s doing right in there and we’ll have to wait and see what happens with him.”  

As for Ihenacho, who was re-signed earlier this month, Gruden has high hopes for the San Jose State product, even if he’s suffered back-to-back season-ending injuries during his first two seasons in Washington.

“We haven’t really been able to see [him], we just see him at practice running around, and the games he did play he really was a sound tackler and a physical player as well,” Gruden said. “And he can actually run very well, so we’re anxious to see what he can do with actually playing some time. Same with David and all those guys. It will be a great challenge back there. I think two of those three guys will rise up to the challenge, and then obviously adding more depth will be helpful.”

Regardless of which two safeties ultimately are in the starting lineup and then on the field, Gruden insists they be capable of playing all over the field in different situations, whether that he playing deep or even up in the box.

“Instead of having them run around, you want them to be one guy plays the hole, one guy has to play in the box, one guy has to cover the tight end, one guy has to play in the hole. They both can play half-field, so they have to be interchangeable,” Gruden said. “And that’s why we like them. I think both David and Duke have good range, obviously D-Hall does. D-Hall can get down in the box and cover tight ends and backs and all that stuff, obviously because he’s an ex-corner. I think all three of them have great versatility.”

As it stands now outside of the “top” three safeties in Bruton Jr., Hall and Ihenacho, the Redskins have a few other options including Jarrett and even recently re-signed cornerback Will Blackmon.

Jarrett’s product will all depend on how well he recovers from a shoulder injury suffered against the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 3 that’s resulted in nerve damage.

He may not be ready until training camp.

“He doesn’t have much strength right now,” Gruden said. “It’s not firing to give him strength. It’s going to take some time. I don’t know how long that’s going to be yet. Something we can’t predict really, just going to continue to rehab and hopefully it fires, we’ll send him to some specialists and hopefully get him out there soon. He’ll do everything he can to get ready I know that. The kid loves, loves, loves football and wants to get out there fast.”

Gruden said Blackmon is “just an older version of Kyshoen,” meaning he, too, can also play all over the defensive backfield, perhaps even some safety this year after sticking to cornerback last season.

He can play it all,” Gruden said. “He’s a quality person too, for the locker room, and we’re going to try him a little bit more at safety possibly too to help our depth at the safety position. Jack of all Trades for Will.”

With next month’s draft and even some additional veteran free agents still available, Gruden would like to add to those spots, though, “quickly.”

We’re a little light in the secondary right now,” Gruden said. “We really are. That’s a position that we have to address, obviously, in the draft . Maybe another free agent or two coming up in the next couple of weeks. We’ll continue to work it. We’ve got some young guys in the building too that we would like to see develop. …But we’d like to add an experienced player with some more young guys.”

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