RICHMOND — After spending the offseason working their way back into form following surgical procedures, cornerbacks Richard Crawford and Tracy Porter received clearance Wednesday to practice when the Redskins open training camp Thursday, Coach Jay Gruden said.
Crawford tore ligaments in his left knee last preseason and missed all of the season, what would have been his second in the NFL. Porter, a free agent signing in the spring, had surgery to repair a torn labrum. While their teammates went through offseason practices, both cornerbacks worked on the side with trainers to further strengthen their surgically-repaired limbs.
Now fully healthy, they will compete for playing time behind starters DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and secondary coach Raheem Morris must identify their top nickel back this preseason and settle on a depth chart at cornerback.
The team re-signed E.J. Biggers, who last season filled in at safety although he is a natural cornerback. Washington also drafted Clemson’s Bashaud Breeland in the fourth round. Biggers took the bulk of the offseason practice snaps at nickel back — covering the opposing slot receiver — with Hall and Amerson covering receivers on the outsides.
Washington signed Porter with plans of using the former Raider and Saint at nickel back. Officials drafted Breeland with the idea of grooming him to eventually take over in that nickel back capacity. The roster also includes second-year pro Chase Minnifield, who spent all of last season on the practice squad, first-year player Peyton Thompson and rookie Courtney Bridget Jr.
Crawford saw some time both on the inside and outside during his rookie season. He made his mark on special teams, however, averaging 19.5 yards per punt return with a long of 64. He is expected to compete for punt return duties this preseason as well.
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