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Redskins depth chart preview: Who starts at safety?

Redskins depth chart preview: Who starts at safety?

Over the past month, the Redskins’ depth chart has undergone a minor makeover as seven draft picks and more than a dozen college free agents have been welcomed into the fold. In the coming days, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will break down the revamped roster, position-by-position, and set up the key battles as OTAs ramp up.

Position: Safety

On the roster: Will Blackmon, David Bruton Jr., Su’a Cravens, Deshazor Everett, DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett and Geno Matias-Smith 

Likely to make the 53: Hall, Cravens, Bruton, Blackmon and Ihenacho

Comment: This is going to be one of the more interesting positions to track this offseason. Entering OTAs, Hall would seem to be safe as one starter. The other? I’m leaning Bruton or Ihenacho…but it’s early and clear position battles have yet to materialize.

Ihenacho won the starting strong safety job last year but got hurt, again. In fact, he’s been limited to a grand total of 13 defensive snaps the past two years due to injury.

Cravens? I’m not sure he should be classified as a safety. Yet, that is. If you believe Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan, the rookie’s official position is TBD—as in to be determined. Right now, he’s lining up as an inside linebacker as the staff attempts to teach him the defensive playbook from the inside out.

I’ve got Blackmon penciled in as the jack-of-all-trades defensive back. Because, well, he can literally play anywhere. That versatility will be key, particularly with Jarrett’s status for 2016 very much in doubt due a nerve injury he suffered in the regular season finale.

That’s five right there. Which is the number the team kept last year. But what about Everett? As a rookie, he led the Redskins in special teams tackles with 11—four more than anyone else. Everett also ranked fourth in special teams snaps in 2015—and the top two (Darrell Young and Jeron Johnson) have moved on.

As you can see, something’s got to give.

Battling for a job: Everett and Matias-Smith.

Comment: I’m not sure how much (if anything) Jarrett will be able to contribute this season. Unless there’s an unexpected turnaround, I can’t see him on the field anytime soon. So I don’t have him making the 53. But I also don’t think he’ll be battling for a job. At this point, injured reserve would seem to be his likely destination.

I’ve got Everett battling for a spot (for now) but I suspect they’ll find a place for a young special teams standout. Will it come at the expense of someone else? If so, who gets squeezed?

Matias-Smith, an undrafted player out of Alabama, was the Tide’s third leading tackler last season (72). But he’s facing an uphill climb with so many vets ahead of him. If he shows enough—and proves he has matured after encountering some off-the-field issues in college—the practice squad could be in play.


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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.