The Redskins got an unwelcome surprise on the injury report this week. Starting cornerback Chris Culliver missed practice on Thursday and Friday with what coach Jay Gruden described as inflammation in his knee. He is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Eagles, meaning that there is a 50-50 chance that he will play.
That means that there is a 50 percent chance that he misses the game and that Will Blackmon, who has been with the Redskins since September 15, will play a prominent role against Philly. If Culliver can’t go, Blackmon would be one of three active cornerbacks on the roster and by far the most experienced.
If Culliver is out, Blackmon would likely start at cornerback opposite second-year player Bashaud Breeland. With DeAngelo Hall out, the only other available corner would be Quinton Dunbar, a rookie free agent who reported to training camp as a wide receiver and would be seeing his first NFL action. Rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett could be pressed into duty as the nickel corner.
Blackmon came into the league in 2006 as a fourth-round draft pick of the Packers. He also played the Giants and Jaguars. This year Blackmon was with the Seahawks during training camp but he did not make the final cut.
The Redskins were in need of help in the defensive backfield after Week 1 so they signed Blackmon on September 17. He jumped in right away, playing five snaps in Week 2 against the Rams and then 30 four days later on Thursday night against the Giants.
“He’s played in big games and made big plays in big games,” said Gruden. “He’s a confident guy and he’s a smart guy. That’s what helps. He’s got some talent. He’s already played nickel. He’s already played dime. He’s already played corner. He’s actually played a little safety, too. He’s only been here about 12 days. He’s done an excellent job, but football players are football players and he’s definitely a football player that can adjust to just about anything and plays with a high level, high IQ, every time he’s out there. He’s an asset for us.”
All NFL teams take injury hits and the mantra is “next man up”. If Culliver is out, the Redskins will have eight “next men up” replacing players who were the anticipated starters during training camp. All of the “next men” were here during training camp with the exception of Blackmon. If he has to start, the Redskins will be relying heavily on his football IQ to help pull them through.