With cornerback Cedric Griffin banished for the final four games of the season for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, the Redskins appear likely to turn to rookie Richard Crawford in their nickel packages.
A seventh-round pick out of SMU, Crawford made Washington’s roster after an active preseason that saw him record five tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups. Crawford saw playing time early this season when Griffin missed three games with a hamstring injury. But he had his share of struggles, and had been inactive for the last seven games.
Faced with another opportunity as the Redskins prepare for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, a hungry Crawford hopes to show coaches that he has learned a good deal from practicing and that he can transfer those improvements onto the field on game day.
“You get more hungry when you’re on the practice field,” the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Crawford said. “I learned from my mistakes, and I’m definitely not about to let this team down. We’re about to go to the playoffs, in my opinion. It’s not going to be because of me that we don’t go.”
Crawford said that he is now better adjusted to the NFL game from a mental aspect than he was earlier this year. He better understands pass-routes and coverage responsibilities and thinks that will help him play with better consistency.
He confessed that although he made plays in the preseason, he often was out of position and got lucky.
“A lot of things I did in preseason when I was playing nickel, I was making plays I wasn’t supposed to make, and wasn’t making plays I was supposed to make,” Crawford said. “Now, I’m trying to make the plays I’m supposed to make and some of those others, and they can be game-changing plays that can help us win.”
Crawford expects to play on the outside as Griffin did – opposite Josh Wilson – in those nickel packages where DeAngelo Hall slides to the inside the cover the slot receiver.
“I think a lot of Richard Crawford,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “I think if he does play, he’ll play, he’ll play well. I think he has a lot of intangibles that you look for. He has been growing ever since – I shouldn’t say benched, because he wasn’t benched – but just practicing, learning the system, feeling more comfortable with the terminology and just football in general, going against our offense, going against different teams. So if he does play, I expect him to play well.”