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DJ Swearinger feels like he's in position, literally, to solve Redskins' safety issues

DJ Swearinger feels like he's in position, literally, to solve Redskins' safety issues

DJ Swearinger signed with the Redskins back in early March, but the former Cardinals safety had a feeling he'd end up in Burgundy and Gold long before that.

"Last year for sure, me and my guy Tony Jefferson was looking at this roster like, 'For sure, one of us going to the Washington Redskins,'" Swearinger said Wednesday after finishing another offseason practice in Ashburn. "It just happened to be me. I told him I wanted to come here."

When watching a few games worth of film of the Redskins defense last year, the two players saw plenty of issues in the back end of the secondary, according to Swearinger. The tape showed the same missed tackles and errors in pass coverage that Redskins fans have become accustomed to from the team's safeties since football was invented for the past decade or so.

Coming into this season, the 25-year-old understands Washington's longstanding problem in the defensive backfield. He also thinks he can be the player to end it.

"I'm definitely aware of it," Swearinger said. "I'm looking forward to just playing my game, doing the things that have gotten me here, being the best pro and best teammate I can be, and I can for sure be that guy." 

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Coach Jay Gruden sounds confident in the veteran, too, even though he's already on his fourth NFL team since being drafted in 2013.

"DJ has been great," Gruden said. "He’s been to every meeting, every practice and practices hard. He's got a great attitude for the position. You can tell he's got a mindset to play safety. He can do a little bit of everything."

So, why does Swearinger believe that he'll be part of the solution at safety for the Redskins, and not join the list of failed attempts that includes (but isn't limited to) names like OJ Atogwe, Bacarri Rambo, Duke Ihenacho, Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams, David Bruton, Reed Doughty, Ryan Clark, Chris Horton, LaRon Landry, Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson?

Well, in his opinion, the Redskins will be using him in a way that's similar to the way the Cardinals used him in 2016, which was the best year of his career. And that hasn't always been the case.

"In Houston, I just never got the chance to play in the middle," Swearinger said. "They played me at strong safety and played me at linebacker. So, I never had the opportunity to show off my range ability. Just last year, I got the opportunity to play free safety, something that I'm comfortable with and I was able to show my range."

If Swearinger can stay comfortable and produce for the Redskins in 2017, then opposing offenses will feel uncomfortable and — just maybe — he and Su'a Cravens will prove to be the pair that stops the never-ending rotation at the pesky spot.

There's been nothing safe about Redskins safeties for the last handful of years, but with Swearinger, at least it sounds like coaches are planning on (literally) putting him in the best position to succeed.​

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Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

The Redskins might be just in the beginning of a quarterback battle, but at Monday's OTA session, it seemed pretty clear which player would eventually win. 

Dwayne Haskins made a number of impressive throws while he was on the field, and while Case Keenum had his share of good passes too, the rookie shined. Even on the surface: Haskins looks the part of a franchise quarterback, standing 6-foot-3 and 230 lbs. Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 lbs, but that seems fairly generous. 

When Haskins throws the ball, it zips through the air. He can go deep and has touch on his underneath routes. Keenum gets the ball where it needs to be, but there's a difference in velocity. 

Let's be crystal clear, however, that one OTA session in May will not determine the starting quarterback job. While Keenum and Haskins are both learning the Redskins offense, Keenum has proved he can stand in the pocket of an NFL game and make plays. Haskins has never seen the size or speed of NFL defensive linemen. 

"It’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow and the next day and so on and so forth and I’m sure it will be a good, lengthy competition with some great players going at it."

A few, unexpected things stood out with Haskins.

Though he has a long windup on his throws, the ball gets out plenty fast. He also seemed quicker in the pocket than some of his NFL Scouting Combine numbers would suggest. Haskins certainly isn't fast, but he's not a plodder either. That said, Keenum does seem to have the advantage in squirting through the line of scrimmage and keeping plays alive. That's something Gruden really likes in his passers.

Both of the QBs seemed comfortable with their role in the competition. 

"It’s normal. I compete every day whether I’m playing football, playing ping pong, playing golf, I’m competing. I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against the defense. In the quarterback room, we’re always competing," Keenum said. "Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about."

Haskins sounded very tactful in his responses; respectful of the veterans already on the team in Keenum and Colt McCoy, yet also eager to get more work.

"I want to be with the best, be around the best, and compete with the best. All season I’ll be around working out with the best quarterbacks on my team," the rookie said. 

Planned or not, Haskins also seemed modest in his goals for the OTA session. 

"I didn’t have any expectations for today, I just wanted to execute. The biggest thing for me was going to play right in the huddle."

That stands out in stark contrast to the Redskins last first-round rookie passer, Robert Griffin III. Expectations for RG3 were out of control, almost immediately, and while parts of his rookie season actually lived up to the hype, that situation was not healthy or sustainable. It's smart for Haskins to set reasonable goals at this stage of his career. Calling plays correctly in the huddle will get him on the field more, and that will give him more chances to make big plays.

It's a learning process, and at OTAs, Haskins showed a willingness to start on the ground floor. In a world of egos and branding, that's a sage move. 

While McCoy was not present on the field at OTAs, he is in Ashburn. He will be a part of this competition, but he needs to get healthy soon. Gruden didn't provide much of an update when asked about McCoy, though the coach did say the quarterback should be back on the field for training camp.

McCoy knows the Redskins offense backward and forward, but without him on the field, Keenum and Haskins are learning the Redskins plays at the same time. And that means while Gruden is looking at a rookie and a veteran, neither player has much of a leg up on his playbook. 

"I think we have to grade them based on production out here every day. Every day is a new grade, every day you see how they’re developing, see how they’re getting better, see if they’re making the same mistakes over and over. But it’s a process, this is the first time Dwyane has had a chance to call plays in a live huddle and go after a live defense and this is the first time Case has had a chance to do that with the Redskins terminology. So, we don’t expect perfection on the day one, but we do expect the guys to know what they’re doing when we go out to the practice field, execute and then continue to get better each and every day."

Get better each day. Compete. That's the cornerstone of success in the NFL, and for the Redskins, how QB1 will find his spot.

"Somebody is going to rise I would think," the coach said. "The cream always rises to the top and we’re hoping that’s the case.”

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Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Redskins officials fear that linebacker Reuben Foster has torn the ACL in his left knee, sources tell NBC Sports Washington.

Additionally, there is concern about a more significant injury that could include the artery in his left leg, sources said. 

Foster went down on his first snap in a non-contact drill during OTAs on Monday after stepping on the leg of guard Tyler Catalina. Immediately, Foster fell to the ground, and it was obvious he was in intense pain. He was audibly screaming and crying while writhing in pain on the field. 

Moments later, the Redskins medical staff rushed out to Foster, and within a matter of minutes, his leg was placed into a stabilizing device. He was then helped onto a cart and wheeled off the practice field. 

After practice, Jay Gruden said the team was unsure of Foster's prognosis but did say, "I’m just very disappointed in what happened in his first rep as a Redskin. He runs through the gap and gets injured."

The Redskins took a major public relations hit by signing Foster last fall, and the team's belief was that his play on the field would be worth the controversy that enveloped his signing. Foster won't be playing in 2019, but remains under contract for 2020, and Washington will have the option to keep him in 2021. 

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