Jim Haslett noncommital on Phillip Buchanon

Washington Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett declined to commit Thursday on whether cornerback Phillip Buchanon would make his season debut Sunday. Buchanon re-joined the team Oct. 3 after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Buchanon practiced with the Redskins on Oct. 4 before the team took the rest of the week off for its bye. Buchanon practiced Monday and was listed as “limited” with a neck injury for Wednesday’s practice, but has said he will be ready to play when he gets the nod from his coaches.

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday that he and his staff need to further evaluate Buchanon’s conditioning. On Thursday, Haslett said: “It all depends. We’ll see.”

“We can’t activate everybody, so we’ll see how they do the next couple of days, and we’ll make a decision,” Haslett added.

Buchanon is competing with Kevin Barnes and Byron Westbrook for playing time as one of Washington’s backup cornerbacks. Barnes has served as the team’s nickelback, covering teams’ slot receivers, while starters DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson cover the receivers on the outside. Barnes said Wednesday: “I’m still the nickel.”

Haslett said Buchanon has gotten work both in the nickel and outside corner positions, but that he still is getting up to speed on the inside position, where he has played only sparingly during his pro career.

“I don’t know if he’s ready for that task yet. … That’s a hard position to play because we ask them to do a lot of different things,” Haslett said. “Not just covering, you’ve got to blitz, you’ve got to mask the defense, you’ve got to know if they’re regular people … gotta know where to line up, get set, know the guy that runs the option route or the deep routes, so there are a lot of plays to know at that position.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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