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Rating the Redskins: Safeties

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Rating the Redskins: Safeties

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 linelinebackerswide receiverscornerbacks, and tight ends. Up this today, we’ve got the safeties.

Starters: Dashon Goldson (FS) and Jeron Johnson or Duke Ihenacho (SS).

Reserves: Johnson/Ihenacho, Trenton Robinson, Kyshoen Jarrett, Akeem Davis and Phillip Thomas.

Tandler: Once again, the Redskins did some patchwork at safety. They moved on from the aging Ryan Clark and the unreliable Brandon Meriweather but it remains to be seen if they upgraded. Goldson struggled mightily in two years with the Bucs after earning All-Pro honors in San Francisco. Was it a bad system fit or has playing a physical position started to wear down a player who will be 31 before the Redskins’ Week 2 game? They took a flyer on Johnson, who has all of one start and 275 NFL snaps on defense under his belt. Moving into a starting role could either be the logical next step in his development or a move up into a role that’s too big for him. Johnson will have to beat out Ihenacho, who started a Super Bowl with the Broncos but was dumped the following fall. In a league short on quality safeties you have to wonder Denver would cut a starter who was making the minimum salary. It appears that Jarrett has a good shot at making the team as a special teams player but both he and Davis have a lot to learn. Thomas, a 2013 fourth-round pick once envisioned as a starter by the organization, is having trouble getting snaps in the offseason program. Things could develop in training camp but right now this looks like a fairly weak unit. The rating is not as harsh as it could be because the safety position is in bad shape on teams all around the NFL. Rating: 3

El-Bashir: Just two years ago, the Redskins attempted to address their longstanding need at safety via the draft. It did not work. Bacarri Rambo was cut after a brief, miscue-riddled tenure in Washington and is now in Buffalo. As for Phillip Thomas, well, we’re still not quite sure what he’s going to be. Thomas remains on the Redskins roster, but, based on OTAs and minicamp, he’s lagging way behind Goldson, Johnson and Ihenacho. Just to earn a spot on the 53, in fact, Thomas will likely need to beat out Jarrett as well as special teams standouts Robinson and Davis. In other words, Thomas is going to have his work cut out in Richmond. And so, as Tandler said, that’s left the Redskins with a patchwork bunch that’s got more questions than answers. If Goldson sees the trade as a wakeup call, perhaps the hard-hitting free safety can regain his Pro Bowl form. If veteran assistant Perry Fewell can coach up Johnson and Ihenacho—they are still just 27 and 26 years old, respectively—perhaps they'll establish themselves as starting caliber players. That’s a couple of big ‘ifs’, however. After that, they’ve got Thomas, a sixth round rookie (Jarrett) and a couple of good special teamers (Robinson and Davis) who rarely played on defense last season. Please excuse me if, for now, I remain a bit skeptical about this position. Rating: 4

Consensus: 3.5

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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

The Redskins are halfway through the preseason and the first two games may have done more to muddy the waters when it comes to who will make the 53-man roster than they did to clarify things. 

Here is my second training camp prediction of who will make the final cut for the Redskins. See where players are safe and where the hot spots are for competition. 

Among the big battles taking shape:

—An injury and one player’s impressive preseason have juggled the wide receiver depth chart. 

—With Orlando Scandrick cut, the cornerback position looks set but the rookies had better not do anything to shake the coaches’ confidence in them. 

—There are seven safeties who may be worthy of roster spots, but only four are likely to make it. 

—Despite the Hogan-led rally last night, it still looks like the roster will have only two QBs. 

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

Redskins 2018 news:

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-Analysis: Five Redskins-Jets observations

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