FOXBOROUGH, MA—The Redskins could be undergoing a change at safety, or at least a change in the mix of snaps at the position.
Going into the game against the Patriots on Sunday, Jeron Johnson, an offseason free agent pickup from the Seahawks, had played just 23 snaps on defense. His participation being that limited is a surprise for two reasons. Johnson was brought in after being a backup on Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary with the expectation that he would be the starter, but he was beaten out but Duke Ihenacho. The second surprise came when Ihenacho was knocked out for the season in Week 1 with a wrist injury. When that happened it was Trenton Robinson, not Johnson, who stepped to the top of the depth chart.
But Robinson has struggled lately and that has led to some additional playing time for Johnson. Against the Patriots Johnson played 49 of the 80 snaps, twice as many as he had in the seven games prior. He had five tackles and did pretty well in coverage.
Jay Gruden made it clear that Johnson’s added playing time was not due to any injuries.
“It was coach’s decision to try him back there,” said Gruden. “We’ve thought Jeron has done some good things in practice and decided to give him a shot.”
The Redskins could be a little crowded at strong safety soon. Rookie Kyshoen Jarrett is on the roster as a safety but he has been filling in as the slot corner while the cornerbacks have suffered through a rash of injuries. That unit is getting back to health and Jarrett has played well enough to warrant consideration for getting regular playing time.
It’s not exactly an embarrassment of riches at safety or anything; they are journeymen at best. But there does appear to be legitimate competition brewing there and that has to be considered a step in the right direction.