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Five Takeaways: Su'a Cravens's #SkinsCamp Presser

Posted Aug 6, 2017's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Su'a Cravens's press conference at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.'s Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Su'a Cravens's press conference at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.

1. The transition to safety has been smooth.

Despite playing inside linebacker during his rookie season, Cravens said Sunday that he doesn’t feel like he ever left playing the safety position.

“It feels like I’ve played sort of a version of the position throughout my college career and a little bit last year,” he said. “But it definitely feels good to be a solid, set position.”

Safety, he said, allows him to play to his strengths, namely operating in the open field and make instinctual decisions when the ball goes in the air, letting him become the playmaker the Redskins saw glimpses of last year and throughout his college career.

The switch to safety took a small change in his diet and dropping some weight, but the conditioning remained the same.

“I work pretty hard, so that wasn’t much of a change,” Cravens said.

2. He has a good explanation of Greg Manusky’s style of defense.

When pressed about the difference in the defense with Manusky at the helm, most players reach for a familiar word: aggressive. Cravens did as well on Sunday, but elaborated in a way his teammates haven’t regarding the philosophy change.

Despite Cravens liking both styles of defense, which follow the same 3-4 scheme, Manusky is more likely to bring more players into the box to blitz when the defense needs a first down.

“Third and short distances we’re going to send a little bit more pressure, whereas for Joe B., we’d sit in a Cover 2 or Cover 3,” Cravens said. “We’d really think things out and try to read routes more than we do with this defense – which is not reading the route, just reacting to what we see or just playing the defense that he calls.

“If ‘Manuss’ likes a play, he’s going to see who he has out there on the field and if he likes the matchup, he’s going to call it regardless of if somebody thinks that he should be calling something else, and it just allows us to play on the fly.”

3. It’s been challenging playing in the tweener role.

As has become the trend in the NFL, the linebacker-safety hybrid is a coveted player, primarily for their versatility in defending a variety of offensive players. Cravens fits this mold, someone who never defined himself at one position due to his size and athleticism.

“I think the college game and the pro game, they are different in a lot of ways but they’re starting to get kind of similar when it comes to the pass game just because it’s all matchup,” Cravens said. “In college it’s all matchup. You’re going to take your athletic tight end if they’re going to put a 250-pound inside linebacker on him, they’re going to throw the ball to him most of the time.”

As part of this new trend, Cravens has struggled being at the forefront of the experimenting but knows coaches have seen the benefits of his abilities.

“It’s tough when it’s new because they don’t know how to play you or they don’t know what to do with you,” Cravens said. “So when you have a guy that’s not really a set position, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, well, he can’t play either.’ But now you have offenses that are attacking that guy that you don’t really have to play in place now that you have that guy.”

4. Playing linebacker helped him learn everyone’s responsibility.

Last year’s experience at linebacker wasn’t exactly a waste of Cravens’s talents. Because he learned the ins and outs of inside linebacker, the information he collected will only help him now at safety as he figures out everyone’s coverage responsibilities in front of him.

"It just helped me learn everybody’s responsibility, knowing run fits and knowing where everybody was going to be – whether it be a run or a pass – helps a lot,” Cravens said. “As safety, I’m behind everybody, so they’re trusting me to be in the position I need to be in. It allows me to play faster, knowing exactly what they’re going to do, where the D-line’s going to fit, so it helps me sharpen up my angles."

5. Referees at camp don’t change the way he plays.

Officials helped monitor practice on Saturday, throwing laundry on the field for penalties they witnessed. It’s helpful for coaches and players to get a better sense of their positioning and how physical they are allowed to get.

Cravens knows it’s very little for defensive backs.

"I mean, it doesn’t change anything. We’re going to play how we want to play and if they are going to flag it, we’re going to get flagged,” Cravens said. “I mean, if you saw some of the things the offense gets away with, you’d understand as to why we think everything’s a bad call. So, I mean, we know it’s an offensive league, so we’re going to play to the best of our abilities and let the refs sort it out."

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