The front seven of the Washington Redskins’ defense remains intact,and Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall are set to start at the cornerback positions. But defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Wednesday that he doesn’t yet know about his starting safeties.
Through OTAs and training camp, Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams have played with the first team, while free agent addition Tanard Jackson and holdovers Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes have rotated in and out with the second and third teams. Meanwhile, rookie Jordan Bernstine has played primarily on the third team while learning both free and strong safety positions.
Haslett said the five veterans are battling for starting positions, but added that Bernstine shouldn’t be counted out for a roster spot.
“I like our group. It’s competitive, first of all. It’s great competition back there,” Haslett said. “I don’t know who the starter’s going to be, but there’s good competition between all five of those [veteran] guys. And I think Bernstine is doing a nice job. He’s really athletic, and I think he’s going to be a good player. So, you’ve got six players vying for however many spots, and the practice squad. It’s a good situation to be in.”
Meriweather has appeared to be the favorite to start at strong safety, while Gomes and Jackson are challenging Williams for the free safety job.
Jackson may be the most athletic of those three, but he is playing catch-up after missing nearly all the offseason practices and the first week of training camp while he healed from injuries.
Jackson returned to action on Aug. 2, and has said that his comfort level gradually has increased. But both he and Haslett said he remains a ways off. Both say game action will expedite Jackson’s development.
“He’s got to keep working at it, and we’re trying to get him more and more reps,” Haslett said of Jackson. “He’ll play a bunch of plays this week. I think he just needs time out there, because he came from a situation that was totally different, schematically, from what he is here. Really smart kid, really athletic. He’s tough as nails.”
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