Will Redskins’ ‘weak link’ be stronger in 2014?

September 5, 2014

Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson, bottom, and safety Ryan Clark, top, force Ravens receiver Steve Smith to fumble during a preseason game. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

From the first day of training camp, the Redskins’ beleaguered secondary has been front and center.

“Nobody wants to be the weak link in any business or any organization,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said then.

As the Redskins prepare to begin the 2014 season Sunday at Houston, the biggest question that looms — even bigger than the play of Robert Griffin III or the game plans of new coach Jay Gruden — is how the secondary will perform under constant pressure.

“We want to wipe some of that bad taste out of our mouths from last year,” Hall said. “We’ve been, I guess, the laughingstock of the league for a while on defense.”

Despite the unit’s large role in allowing 478 points last season, not much has changed — defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris are back, albeit with a more aggressive approach. Most of the players are returning as well, with a promise that they’ll deliver better results.

“I’m ready to do whatever it takes to win,” safety Bacarri Rambo said.

Rambo and cornerback David Amerson were part of the new blood brought in by the Redskins last year to revamp the secondary, but they struggled to adjust to the NFL with coverage and tackling. Both will be in the starting lineup Sunday, a testament to their improvement and the Redskins’ lack of depth in the defensive backfield.

“I’m a whole lot more mature than last year,” Rambo said. “I feel a whole lot more comfortable with the scheme and knowing my responsibilities.”

On the other end of the spectrum are veterans Hall, who arguably had his best pro season last year, and Ryan Clark, imported from Pittsburgh to provide veteran leadership and hard hits from the free safety position.

“Getting people together, letting people understand the game plan — something that I’ve worked to be good at — I think that’s part of why they brought me here,” Clark said.

The secondary knows that a lot of the team’s success hinges on their performance, and to their credit, they are ready to shoulder the responsibility.

“If by the end of the season you could say the secondary for the Washington Redskins were winners, I think we’ll take that,” Clark said.

Read more from Express Sports:

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Beth Cope · September 5, 2014