Just having Meriweather in a game was encouraging for the Redskins, who are counting on him to provide big plays and leadership in their new-look secondary.
Meriweather had to get started again at some point, and even a little work in the preseason is better than none.
Cornerback Richard Crawford’s season-ending knee injury last week was a blow to the secondary and special teams. The Redskins entered Thursday’s game looking for a punt returner to replace Crawford, and rookie running back Chris Thompson made a here-I-am play. Thompson likely locked up a roster spot with a dazzling 69-yard punt return for a touchdown. Thompson’s speed could provide a shot in the arm for the return game.
The Redskins have been set at place kicker from the moment they signed Kai Forbath. In case anyone had forgotten, Forbath is very good. That was clear again throughout Forbath’s perfect preseason.
Meriweather waited weeks for the preseason playing time he finally got at Raymond James Stadium. It seems he did enough to shake off a little rust and remain on track to start in Week 1. For many reasons, Meriweather is extremely important to the defense.
Coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett didn’t need to see much from Meriweather.
And that’s good, because Meriweather didn’t produce anything statistically while playing the whole first half.
Meriweather backpedaled, cut and accelerated with ease. For the Redskins, those were good signs.
Entering his seventh season, Meriweather is — by far — the Redskins’ most talented veteran safety. Meriweather’s coverage skills (he was a cornerback in college) will enable Haslett to isolate him against receivers in some alignments, freeing other defensive backs to help elsewhere in coverage or rush the passer.
Longtime Redskins safety Reed Doughty is technically sound and a tireless worker. He’s a standout on special teams and is fine in a limited role on defense.
Doughty, though, isn’t the type of player who’s capable of energizing the entire team with a highlight-tape play. Before Meriweather suffered his knee injury, he was a highlight-tape guy at times.
Shanahan and Haslett are high on both rookie safety Bacarri Rambo and rookie cornerback David Amerson, who had an interception on Thursday night. Rambo has been a starter at one safety spot since training camp began and Amerson has a key role as well. They still need guidance, though, and Meriweather could help a lot in that area.
Also, with talented rookie safety Phillip Thomas sidelined for the season because of a foot injury, the Redskins would face depth problems if Meriweather were slowed during the season because of his reconstructed knee. Potentially, there’s a whole lot riding on it.