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Redskins position preview: Free safety


Redskins position preview: Free safety

Over the past few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler have taken one more look at the Redskins’ depth chart, position-by-position, as the team prepares to head to Richmond for training camp. Some battles figure to be straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Sept. 5. So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …

Position: Free safety.

On the roster: Dashon Goldson, Trenton Robinson and Kyshoen Jarrett.

Likely to make the 53: Goldson and either Robinson or Jarrett.

Comment: Did the Redskins get the Dashon Goldson who earned Pro Bowl berths in 2011 and 2012? Or did they get the veteran that ranked as the second worst safety in football in 2014? (Interestingly enough, the only safety PFF ranked lower was Ryan Clark, the man Goldson is expected to replace.)

If the Redskins got the former, it could turn out to be GM Scot McCloughan’s shrewdest offseason move. If they got the latter, well, they’ll be looking for a starting free safety next offseason. Once again.

It’s far too early to know for sure which Goldson they got in the low-risk trade with the Bucs that also included swap of draft picks. But the early indications are encouraging. The 30-year-old worked as the first team free safety all offseason, and that’s not expected to change between now and Week 1.     

“He’s an experienced guy [and] he’s tough,” Coach Jay Gruden said recently of the 6 foot 2, 200-pound ninth-year pro, who has a reputation for big hits. “He had some great seasons at San Francisco, went to Tampa Bay, might have been a little disappointing down there, I don’t know. But based on his tape and his career production, we thought it was worth it to go try to get him. Scot McCloughan did a great job to get the deal done and we’re glad we got him. [He] brings more experience, toughness to the secondary that we need.”

Assuming Goldson stays healthy and productive, he probably won’t come off the field much in 2015.

Battling for a job: Robinson and Jarrett.

Comment: Barring something unforeseen, Goldson will be the starter against the Dolphins.

After that, it gets a little murky.

Jeron Johnson and Duke Ihenacho are competing for the starting strong safety job. Johnson, however, also saw some snaps at free safety during a few of the OTA and minicamp practices that were open to reporters. Robinson and rookie Kyshoen Jarrett often worked as the second and third string free safeties, respectively, while veterans Phillip Thomas and Akeem Davis are able to play both positions.

Here’s the bottom line: the Redskins will likely keep five safeties on the 53-man roster this season. Goldson, Johnson and Ihenacho are the top three entering training camp, leaving two spots up for backups who figure to see considerably more playing time on special teams than on defense. Last season, those players were Robinson and Davis.

Can Thomas or Jarrett squeeze their way past someone in front of them on the depth chart? We'll find out soon. The competition for backup roles begins in earnest in about three weeks. 

Redskins position previews 2015:

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Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Two days after losing Reuben Foster for the year, the Redskins made a move to at least provide reinforcements to a weakened linebacker group.

On Wednesday, Washington announced that they have signed Jon Bostic, a six-year veteran. The 'Skins also officially placed Foster on injured reserve.

Bostic was a 2013 second-round pick of the Bears out of Florida. He's since bounced around to New England, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh, where he started 14 times for the Steelers in 2018 and posted 73 tackles. He's been traded twice in his career and missed all of 2016 with a foot injury. 

So, what does the move accomplish for the Redskins?

Well, Bostic — or any other free agent signing at this point — isn't going to have close to the level of talent and potential that Foster had. However, getting another option at linebacker was necessary for the Burgundy and Gold, and the 28-year-old has played in 30 contests over the past two years, so he's relatively established. 

Yes, he's far from a gamechanger, considering he has just one interception and 5.5 sacks as a pro. But he's regarded as a solid run defender and tackler and should at least push Mason Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. His presence also could alleviate some of the pressure that would've been on rookie Cole Holcomb. 

Signing a defender who's been with five franchises in six years isn't exactly inspiring, but Bostic has experience as a starter and could give the Redskins useful snaps on first and second down at a minimum. Now it's on him to take advantage of the opportunity he's been given.


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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

You may not know the exact dates of the Redskins' two matchups with the Giants this season, which will take place Sep. 29 and Dec. 22 in 2019. But Landon Collins sure does.

"I'm gonna circle it for the next six years," the 'Skins new safety told ESPN in a recent interview. 

No, Collins isn't circling those dates from now until 2024 because he wants to be very organized and ensure he doesn't have any scheduling conflicts. He's doing it because he's dying to get revenge on his former team, who let him leave as a free agent in part because of their "culture change," according to him.

"All we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us," Collins told ESPN, referring to himself and other now ex-Giants like Odell Beckham and Damon Harrison. "I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants... If it's not good media, they don't want that kind of media."

In addition to the organization wanting to go in a different direction culture-wise, New York didn't want to pay the amount of money the Redskins ended up paying for Collins because he wasn't an ideal fit in their defense. The 25-year-old pushes back against the idea that he's strictly a "box safety," though, as do current and former players.

Interestingly enough, Collins isn't the only member of the Redskins' secondary who's in D.C. thanks to a decision by Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was also the same guy who decided the Panthers needed to move on from Josh Norman in April 2016.

Collins, for one, doesn't sound like he'll miss Gettleman at all. The defender didn't love how the GM consistently failed to make an effort to connect personally with his players. 

"I don't know him, he don't know me, that's kind of how it just kind of was," he explained.

All that, however, doesn't matter anymore. Collins is going to be the foundation of the Redskins' defense for quite some time, and that's a challenge he's ready to accept.

"I'm on a team that loves me and wanted me here," he said.