One game into the season, the Redskins have to deal with some shortages in the secondary, both long term and short term.
Duke Ihenacho, who won the starting strong safety job with a good performance in OTAs and training camp, is out for six to eight weeks with a wrist injury that will require surgery. According to Jay Gruden he could end up on either season-ending injured reserve or IR designated for return, which would cost him at least eight weeks on the sideline.
When Ihenacho went out in the second quarter on Sunday, Trenton Robinson played in his place. He had six tackles.
Robinson was a sixth-round draft pick of the 49ers and he is the favorite to get his second NFL start on Sunday when the Redskins play the Rams.
But he is not the only possibility. Jeron Johnson was signed as a free agent this offseason with the idea that he would become the starter at strong safety. But Ihenacho beat him out and a hamstring in injury in training camp may have pushed him further down the depth chart. The fact that he did not play a single defensive snap with the starter out for over half of the game is telling. But he could get a chance to work his way back up in practice.
Gruden also mentioned that Kyshoen Jarrett would be in the mix, too. He played five defensive snaps against the Dolphins. But it is very unlikely that the rookie, a sixth-round draft pick this year, would get the starting nod, at least not immediately.
Dashon Goldson will start at free safety as he did last week.
The problems at cornerback are of a more temporary nature but perhaps more serious this week because Chris Culliver, perhaps the best player in the secondary, is not going to play on Sunday. He is suspended this week due to a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, a penalty stemming from a 2014 incident involving a hit and run.
The good news is that Bashaud Breeland, who started 15 games last year and showed some ability, is back from a one-game suspension of his own. He is raw and he missed most of training camp after suffering a sprained MCL early on. There will be a drop off in effectiveness with him in and Culliver out but the secondary should survive.
Justin Rogers played slot corner against the Dolphins and he could do that against St. Louis. But Gruden said that Rogers was suffering from plantar fasciitis and he is day to day. If he can’t go, Breeland likely would slide over to the slot in nickel situations and David Amerson would come in at Breeland’s corner spot.
Amerson had a tough go of it when he played eight snaps in place of DeAngelo Hall, who was dealing with a rib injury. Per Pro Football Focus he he was targeted six times, gave up 28 yards, two first downs and a TD.
If it looks like Rogers will be out the Redskins might sign another cornerback. According to reports veteran Will Blackmun is coming into town for a tryout.
However the Redskins staff their secondary they had better get it together in a hurry. Nick Foles of the Rams, next Sunday’s opponent, passed for 297 yards and posted a 115.8 passer rating against the Seahawks, who have a pretty good secondary even with Kam Chancellor still holding out.