Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about the Redskins' roster and more as the team prepares for a Week 4 matchup with the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
@AyeCoop asks: Do you think Montae will start the rest of the season at Strong Safety???? #HailMail
While D.J. Swearinger has settled into a leadership role as a defensive captain and starting free safety, the Redskins have alternated reps at strong safety so far between Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett.
Everett started Washington’s games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders respectively while Nicholson was alongside Swearinger in the Redskins’ Week 2 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Even though Nicholson didn’t start against the Raiders, he appeared on 43 on the defense’s 51 snaps.
This sort of rotation will likely continue, at least for now, as Redskins head coach Jay Gruden tries to play to both young safeties strengths.
“I think Montae covers a lot of ground. He’s very long and very fast and Montae is a good hitter too. Deshazor is still doing a good job at safety and on special teams,” Gruden said. “…Both of them are good football players and we plan to use them both. I think they’re both going to help us.”
Nicholson, of course, is coming off the best game of his young career. He recorded an interception off Derek Carr, but his production went well past the stat sheet.
He showed an ability to cover across the field and even laid a big hit on veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who was coming off a three-touchdown performance the week prior but was held to just one catch against Washington.
It is possible Nicholson will eventually take over the role entirely as the season progresses, especially if he’s able to string together more performances like his one against the Raiders. Gruden even said Nicholson (21 years old) and Swearinger (26 years old) have the potential to be “a great tandem.”
“As a rookie to come in and play as well as he’s doing, I tip my hat to him,” Swearinger said. “I continue to stay on him, continue to get the chemistry going with me and him, but he’s playing amazing, he’s only going to keep getting better. He’s a rookie, man, and still ripe behind the ears. So he’s still going to get better, going to keep getting better, but a great player.”
Tony J. Quinn asks: How do you think our defense will hold up against the chiefs running attack? #HailMail
This is likely going to be the question of the week for the Redskins as they start practices later this afternoon.
Washington is coming off a truly dominant performance over the Raiders, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins allowed just 32 rushing yards against Oakland including just 18 from Marshawn Lynch. The unit also put Carr and Co. into unfavorable situations on third downs, as the Redskins stopped all 11 of the Raiders’ third down plays on the evening.
This week, though, Washington faces breakout rookie Kareem Hunt, who was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month and NFL Rookie of the Month.
In just three games so far, Hunt has rushed for 401 yards on 47 carries along with nine receptions for 137 yards. Additionally, he has scored six touchdowns in his first three NFL games – the most through three games by a rookie in 37 years.
What makes Hunt so lethal is his ability to break off runs into lengthy touchdowns. In each of Kansas City’s first three games, the Toledo product has a touchdown of at least 50 yards.
Washington, meanwhile, currently ranks second against the run in the NFL, allowing just a little more than 62 rushing yards per contest. The unit is also one of eight teams to have yet to give up a 20-plus-yard run.
Linebacker Zach Brown – who is currently second in the NFL in tackles -- noted that in order for the Redskins to slow Lynch, the defense needed to be sound in tackling. That will be the case this week as well, especially against a young back riding so high right now.
“It’s a major emphasis for us since OTAs, it’s a major emphasis in training camp, and it’s a major emphasis during the week – good fundamentally sound tackling and pursuit to the football,” Gruden said. “So hats off to the guys for executing the plan and playing well.”