Quick Links

Rating the Redskins: Cornerbacks


Rating the Redskins: Cornerbacks

New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan aimed to improve nearly every position through the draft or via free agency. How has he done? Over the next couple of weeks, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine and rate each group on the team. The ratings will be based on the quality of the players as compared to the rest of the league and, in particular, the division.

We’ll use a scale of 1 to 10. To receive a 10, a position group would need Pro-Bowl caliber starters and solid backups. A rating of 1 means the starters are aging and ineffective and there are no promising reserves in the pipeline.

We’ve already looked at the defensive lineoffensive line, linebackers, wide receivers, and tight ends. Up this today, we’ve got the cornerbacks.

Starters: Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland.

Reserves: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson and Tevin Mitchel.

Tandler: This unit was a weak link last year. Hall missed the last 13 games with an Achilles injury, Amerson struggled through a sophomore slump, Breeland played well at times and like an unpolished rookie at times, Tracy Porter, who was supposed to be the nickel back, missed most of the season with injuries, and below replacement level players like E. J. Biggers were forced into playing important snaps. The corners should be better in 2015. Culliver came over from the 49ers as a free agent and he is an instant, major upgrade. It appears that Hall’s rehab is going well enough to think that he will be back for Week 1. Breeland will have another offseason of learning under his belt and the word is that the talented Amerson is taking his struggles last year to heart and taking preparation more seriously. This all sounds good but a lot of things sound good in June but then don’t work out when the games start counting. Put me down for cautious optimism that the cornerbacks will be less of a liability this year but I need to see a lot more before believing that they will be a strength. Rating: 4.

El-Bashir: I’m not concerned about Culliver or Breeland. As long as they avoid trouble off the field, I’m confident they’ll deliver on it. Both bring a much-needed edge to the secondary and possess the potential to be a solid duo. I do, however, have concerns about the others. Hall, if healthy, will bring some playmaking ability and veteran calm. But when will he be 100-percent recovered from a twice-torn Achilles? During the first OTA session, when the 31-year-old did some light individual drill work, things seemed to be right on schedule. Hall did less work the next two weeks, however. Maybe it's just part of the plan, as Jay Gruden said. But I'll be curious to see what, if anything, Hall does this week in veteran minicamp. As for Amerson, he’s the No. 3 corner right now and is coming off a sophomore season in which he allowed a league-worst 10 passing touchdowns in his coverage, according to Gruden says he’s been “very impressed” with Amerson this offseason, so perhaps he’s in the process of regaining his focus and, more important, his confidence. We’ll see, I guess. It’s too early to say if Mitchel, a sixth round pick this year, will make an immediate impact, or if any of the hopefuls, like Justin Rogers or Trey Wolfe can put pressure on those ahead of them. Let’s be honest here. After the Redskins’ defense surrendered a whopping 35 passing touchdowns—the most in the NFL in 2014—this group probably deserved a rating of 1 or 2. But I’m an optimist, and I think the addition of Culliver (as well as the tutelage of Perry Fewell) will help shore things up a bit. But, like Tandler, I need to see it before I get excited. Rating: 5.

Consensus: 4.5.

Quick Links

Redskins QB Colt McCoy’s status still uncertain as he misses practice again

Redskins QB Colt McCoy’s status still uncertain as he misses practice again

Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy again did not participate in practice on Sunday and his status for the start of the regular season remains unclear, according to coach Jay Gruden. 

McCoy, in a quarterback competition with Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins, has yet to play in a preseason game. He remained confident that his recovery from a broken right leg last Dec. 4 is on track despite setbacks during the offseason and a recurrence of pain during training camp. 

“Sooner rather than later,” McCoy told reporters in the locker room after practice when asked his assessment of a return.  

But that might be wishful thinking. McCoy admitted he went to see renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson while the Redskins were in Richmond for training camp. There is no sign he’s about to return to practice this week before a Thursday preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. 

“It might not be the end of camp, it might be two or three weeks into the season,” Gruden said. “We don't know yet. Like I said, there's no timetable for him until he feels like he's 100 percent to push off that leg. Until that time comes, he's going to be rehabbing.”  

Gruden admitted surprise that the broken leg hasn’t healed completely almost months after McCoy went down in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but cast no blame on the training or medical staff and called it “a fluke-type thing.” 

Gruden said that McCoy did not re-aggravate the injury at all during training camp in Richmond. It’s the same injury he’s been trying to heal from for months. He also wasn’t ready to say if the Redskins would pursue another quarterback. 

That can wait until after the third preseason game and when they have a better idea of McCoy’s status and whether they absolutely need one on the roster. For now, Gruden believes McCoy is on a path to return. It shouldn’t be too long. Maybe. But when, exactly, has left everyone frustrated. 


Quick Links

For an unfamiliar Redskins linebacking group, working together is everything

For an unfamiliar Redskins linebacking group, working together is everything

Though it can sometimes be muffled by crowd noise or distance, there's one thing you can guarantee will happen on a majority of the Redskins defensive plays. If Jon Bostic is in the huddle, his voice will be heard.

“That’s how I’ve always been. When I’m on the field, the thing about me is that I'm always talking, I’m always communicating," Bostic said. "People always tell me I never shut up.”

Even if once and awhile people may mention that he talks a lot, it's usually mentioned as a positive. Though he's only been a member of the Redskins for a few months now, the 28-year-old linebacker's vocalness has been a welcome addition to the huddle.

"Bostic is such a great communicator. We didn’t really know that until we got him here," head coach Jay Gruden said. "How he communicates with the linebackers, and the secondary. He makes it easy for everybody that plays with him.”

Bostic's ability to be a voice on the defense is crucial, specifically for his position group. Just a few months prior at OTAs and minicamp, the linebacking core had some veteran, experienced members in Rueben Foster and Mason Foster. That's no longer the case

A season-ending injury to Rueben Foster and the release of Mason Foster has things looking a lot different in the middle of the defense. With the veteran and familiar players out of the picture, it's about new faces stepping up.

Bostic is part of that group, and seems to have embraced the challenge so far. The six-year veteran has bounced around the league, but looks comfortable with the Redskins. He's impressed since he signed following Foster's injury, and has worked his way into earning first-team reps. 

Alongside Bostic will most likely be Shaun Dion Hamilton. The second-year pro came on strong toward the end of the 2018 season, and with a shakeup in the roster he's primed to take on a bigger role during his sophomore campaign. Initially slowed down by some injuries in the preseason, he's back on the practice field, which has the likes of Bostic incredibly excited.

“It’s big," Bostic said about getting the opportunity to take reps with Dion Hamilton. "Another guy that’s smart, has played football.”

While both Bostic and Dion Hamilton are both talented individuals, the success in the middle of the defense will only come if the two mesh together. The two have some familiarity due to playing in similar systems in college, but their time on the field together has been limited to a smaller sample size.

So throughout the remainder of the preseason, a primary goal is to get more comfortable alongside one another. A task that could require Bostic to keep his lips sealed at times.

“When I’m out there, sometimes I’ll be quiet. Like at practice I’ll be quiet because I want to learn the guys next to me," Bostic said. "I want to learn how he thinks. I think that’s important, especially for me.”

Talking or listening, communication will play a big part in preparing the linebacking group for the chaos that is a snap in the NFL. The intensity that comes with each down is something rookie linebacker Cole Holcomb, another new face with new responsibilities, has quickly picked up during his first taste of pro action. 

“You gotta be fast. You’re thinking out loud," Holcomb said. “Just talking about what you’re seeing, and together we'll create a picture.”

The picture is slowly starting to come together for the fifth-round pick. Continuing to pick up new things as he goes along and keeping his head buried in the playbook and tape, he's been able to make the difficult transition less of a bumpy ride.

“Cole is very smart, that’s part of the reason why we were attracted to him in the draft," Gruden said. "He’s a very, very smart player. Instinctual player. He’s picked it up very smoothly, very effortlessly.”

In addition to studying on his own, Holcomb is another member of the linebacking corps that has made communicating a major priority. Constantly talking and listening to all the voices he can, including Bostic and Dion Hamilton, things have started to slow down. 

For a position group clouded with some question marks and uncertainty, all members are in the midst of their own personal learning experiences. Conquering those will be important, but it starts with building off one another through something as simple as talking.

At the end of the day, they're all in this together.

“We gotta grow together, keep growing together as a defense," Bostic said.  "We gotta keep learning each other, we gotta keep understanding the defense. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.”