It appears that Brandon Meriweather will take the field for the first time as a member of the Redskins. He was signed in the spring in hopes that he could take the spot of the departed LaRon Landry at free safety.
After suffering a knee injury in the second preseason game in Chicago, Meriweather was working to get ready for the season opener when he suffered a setback. Then he was set to play in Week 4 against the Bucs but a fluke pregame collision with receiver Aldrick Robinson reinjured the knee and he was back on the shelf.
Although it is not yet certain that he will play, Mike Shanahan said that he was “encouraged” by Meriweather’s progress. The safety himself said, “I’m feeling good about it” when he was asked if he would play against the Eagles.
If he does suit up and play, what will his role be? He might start at strong safety but it seems doubtful that he will play 60-70 snaps as is typical for defensive starters. Look for him to go more like 30 or 40 snaps as he works his way back into football shape.
It would make sense to have Meriweather in the game on first down and in short-yardage situations. My observation on him in training camp is that he is very aggressive when he is moving forward but not very comfortable when backpedaling as one has to do in coverage. The Redskins might press the line of scrimmage daring Nick Foles to beat them and this style suits Meriweather’s game very well.
Reed Doughty and Jordan Pugh have been splitting snaps at strong safety in Meriweather’s absence. One of the two, probably Doughty, will spell Meriweather. It appears that DeJon Gomes, who was the starting strong safety for the first three games before the Doughty-Pugh combination took over, will be inactive as the odd man out.
Meriweather probably is not going to solve the Redskins’ coverage issues just by showing up. That is not his strong suit. The best case scenario is that he can help out some against the run and against the short passing game and that he might make a few plays that generate some excitement in the stadium and among the players.
How many times this year has a defensive back hit an opposing receiver hard enough to knock a reception out of his hands. I may be missing one or two but I can’t think of a single time. Meriweather is capable of bringing that type of aggressiveness to the Redskins’ secondary.
“We don’t look like we’re having fun,” he said said of the Redskins' defensive backs. “I think just the way I approach the game and the way I play the game, I think I bring a little more excitement.”