Now in his fourth year with the Washington Redskins, head coach Jay Gruden believes cornerback Bashaud Breeland will have a "big year" in a rebuilt defensive unit.
Entering the last year of a rookie contract he signed back in 2014 as a fourth-round pick out of Clemson, Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland isn’t focused on what’s going to happen following this season.
He just wants to put his best foot forward in 2017 and play this best football of his career to date.
“I’m not really worried about deals right now,” Breeland told reporters this week at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va. I’m worried about what I can do to help the Redskins win in 2017. Whatever happens, happens.”
Since being selected in 2014, the Allendale, S.C., native has been one of Washington’s most productive defensive players. In 2014, he was named to NFL.com’s All-Rookie Team after becoming the first Redskins rookie to finish a season in sole possession for the team lead in interceptions since Fred Smoot in 2001.
He also had a highlight performance in a road overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, helping hold wide receiver Dez Bryant to just three receptions for 30 yards.
He also led the team in interceptions in both 2015 and 2016, but the Clemson product struggled at times on the field last year particularly in the regular season opener against Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown.
“I think everybody has to face adversity at some point, but I think as an individual standpoint, I think there are certain things that he might take more out of than anybody else,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. “But we had those private talks and I think he’s learned from them.”
Check out the top images of Bashaud Breeland from the 2015 season.
Breeland’s play eventually improved as time went on in 2016 and Gruden expects the 25-year-old to get back to his old ways, locking down receivers opposite Josh Norman.
Already this offseason, Gruden has seen a more confident and mature version of Breeland.
“I think he’s grown up a lot just from his rookie year to now,” Gruden said. “I think last year we had some ups and downs, so to speak, in the whole defensive secondary and everywhere on defense – really the whole team in general. I think he’s grown from what he’s learned. He’s becoming more confident in his abilities also. You can see that. We are installing some new coverages that are new to him that he hasn’t played before. He’s getting more and more comfortable but he’s working on his technique. [defensive backs coach] Torrian Gray is doing a nice job with him. I think he’s ready for a big year.”
Speaking of Gray, Breeland is eager to see his coaching pay off once the year rolls on. An “energetic coach,” in the eyes of Breeland, Gray is keenly focuses on technique.
Whether that’s in press or off-coverage, as he's expected to play more of this year, Breeland is ready to take his game to the next level under Gray.
“We work hand-in-hand with each other,” Breeland said. “I feel like I can play any style that you want me to play. Coach wants us to play off, we going to play off. …I just feel like more overall my excitement towards this season in playing off than playing press, I’m going to be the best I can be at either one of them.”