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Posted at 12:50 PM ET, 07/19/2011

Redskins defense: Who has the most to prove?

The Washington Redskins should be back to work and opening training camp by the end of the month. There will be jobs on the line, expectations to be met and questions to be answered.

Who are some of the Redskins with the most to prove? Earlier today, we took a look at the offense. Now for the defense.

Jim Haslett –Mike Shanahan brought in Haslett last year to scrap the 4-3 defense (which had worked quite well for the Redskins) and install the 3-4 despite the fact that the team lacked the right personnel. The defense plunged in the rankings and was largely ineffective. Not all of last year’s struggles can be blamed on Haslett, but his unit needs to make big improvements this year. The addition of O.J. Atogwe should help, and Washington still needs a dominant nose tackle, among other things. But Haslett has to get more out of this unit this year.

LaRon Landry – The strong safety was on his way to a Pro Bowl campaign, but a bad Achilles’ tendon caused him to miss the second half of the season. This offseason, Landry passed on surgery on the Achilles’, but went under the knife for shoulder and wrist injuries. Can he return at 100 percent this season? Landry also is playing in a contract year.

Ryan Kerrigan – The Redskins were determined to come out of the draft with an edge pass rusher to complement Brian Orakpo, and drafted Kerrigan 16th overall out of Purdue. Blessed with good size, quickness and a relentless motor, Kerrigan seems to have all the tools. But he will be making the transition from defensive end to linebacker, and not having an offseason to work with his coaches could diminish his immediate impact.

Kevin Barnes – Depending on what the Redskins do in free agency, the Maryland product could be called upon often. He’s got good size and coverage skills. But is he a starter, or a third corner?

Ma’ake Kemoeatu – The big fella was coming off of a year-long Achilles’ tendon surgery recovery and was largely ineffective last season. His 2010 season ended with him on IR and needing shoulder surgery. It’s no secret the Redskins are in the market for a nose tackle. They also drafted Chris Neild in the seventh round, but believe he has a good shot to make the team. Whenever the doors to Redskins Park open, Kemoeatu needs to report and show he’s in great shape.

Jeremy Jarmon -- The Redskins took Jarmon in the 2009 supplemental draft (costing them a third-round pick last year), and still are waiting for him to deliver. He wasn’t healthy for much of last season. The team could use help in the trenches and in addition to drafting a defensive end (Jarvis Jenkins) are said to be interested in a couple in free agency. Jarmon could have benefited from a chance to display his growth during OTAs this year. Instead, he’ll have to hope he gets opportunities in training camp.

By  |  12:50 PM ET, 07/19/2011

 
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