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Redskins Playbook: Shadow coverage, and more, in play for Josh Norman in 2017

Redskins Playbook: Shadow coverage, and more, in play for Josh Norman in 2017

Josh Norman came to Washington last season with the reputation as the best cornerback in the NFL. He played well his first year with the Redskins, but statistically, his numbers weren't enough to get to the Pro Bowl.

A number of would-be interceptions slipped through Norman's fingers, seemingly every week, and his play outpaced his INT total. Still, especially early in the year, it seemed the Redskins weren't maximizing Norman's value. 

Never was that more apparent than the first two weeks of the season when the Redskins got burnt by Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Dallas' Dez Bryant. Former Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry insisted that Norman not shadow the opposition's best wideout. Eventually, that strategy changed, but not until much damage was inflicted. 

With Greg Manusky now in charge of the 'Skins defense, will Norman travel with the other team's best receiver? 

"Will we do that? Yeah," Manusky said last week after an OTA session.

Manusky explained that it's "important" to allow corners to travel with certain receivers, but he also won't demand it if a player isn't comfortable. The full answer made clear that the Redskins won't force Norman to move with wideouts, but at the same time, expect the $75 million corner to have more opportunities to make plays. 

"I think just from a football perspective, he feels it and he knows it," Manusky said of Norman. "And I think they’re the players that you want on the field and that’s what he has. He has that feel for it, and when the ball is coming out, he can break on it."

That could mean more off-man coverage for Norman, allowing him to watch the offense develop more than press coverage allows. 

"In a situation with Josh, we’re trying to play him a little bit off and have vision and see the quarterback, man-to-man situations and in zones, [it’s] something that he’s I think been taught a little bit before but some of that is a little bit different, and he’s made some plays," Manusky said. 

Think back through the Redskins 16 games last season, and Norman easily could have doubled his interception total just by hanging on to a few more footballs. He's an elite athlete, and it would not be crazy to think that total will jump in 2017. 

Manusky seems ready to let Norman make plays, which suits a playmaker.

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

Starting Tuesday, all 32 NFL teams will have a chance to asses some of the best talents in the upcoming draft at the NFL Combine. However, one of the better safety prospects available will be noticeably absent in Indianapolis.

University of Alabama safety Deionte Thompson will reportedly not participate in combine activities after having surgery on his wrist Friday to mend a torn ligament, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Rapoport did mention that the injury is not believed to have a serious impact long-term. 

Thompson is coming off a junior season at Alabama in which he recorded two interceptions and 78 tackles while earning Consensus All-America honors.

As the draft approaches, the safety is being regarded as one of the better secondary options available for teams. In NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig's latest mock draft, Thompson is projected to go 24th overall to the Oakland Raiders.

Though the projection doesn't have Thompson ending up as a member of the Burgundy and Gold, he is still a realistic option for the Redskins. With a few questions marks in the secondary following the departure of D.J. Swearinger Sr. and the unclear future of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Redskins could very well see Thompson as a viable target at No. 15.

If Thompson's impending recovery time leads to his draft stock falling, there is a slight chance he may even be available in the second round when the Redskins pick at No. 46.

Currently, there is no timetable for his return. Alabama is scheduled to host its Pro Day on March 19, which could be the next time Washington and other teams will get a chance to evaluate Thompson.

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The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

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USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

It's a very small consolation, but on Friday, the Redskins finally picked up their compensatory third-round pick for losing Kirk Cousins in free agency last year.

That's not the only new selection they now have in their arsenal for the 2019 NFL Draft, though.

In addition to that third-rounder, Washington also netted a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, too. The four picks is a bit of a surprise, as most expected the Burgundy and Gold would be awarded with only three.

Bruce Allen has explained in the past how the 'Skins value compensatory picks, which teams receive based on the contracts their own free agents sign with new franchises. Last offseason, the Redskins saw Cousins, Ryan Grant, Spencer Long and Trent Murphy all cash in on the open market.

In total, Washington now has nine picks in the upcoming draft, with two each in the third, fifth and seventh rounds. They traded away their fourth-round spot for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Losing homegrown players like Cousins and Co. is certainly not ideal, but by letting those types of guys depart, the Redskins do set themselves up for more swings in April. 

That part of the strategy has paid off. The next step? Making those picks count. 

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