Cornerback Josh Wilson nearing 100 percent, expanding duties


Josh Wilson welcomes the challenge of covering slot receivers, and says the added responsibility has rejuvenated him. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND – Limited in his activities for the first two practices of training camp, Josh Wilson on Saturday took another step toward reclaiming his spot at right cornerback on the Redskins’ first-team defense.

Wilson missed all of the offseason workouts and then opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list because of rehab from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. But the seventh-year veteran said he feels good and sees himself making daily strides forward. In the first two practices of camp, Wilson did a select number of individual drills. The workload increased on Saturday. Wilson also returned to his starting spot in Saturday morning’s walk-throughs after serving as an observer on previous days.

“I’m able to do a little bit more every day, and I feel like I’m right on track to come out here and do what I need to do,” said Wilson, who wore pads on Saturday, but was held out of seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 action.

The team’s starter at right corner the last two seasons, Wilson entered this offseason facing a degree of uncertainty because of the salary owed to him by the salary-cap-strapped Redskins. But Wilson restructured his deal, essentially accepting a paycut to remain with the team. Washington sought to upgrade its secondary this offseason and drafted David Amerson in the second round.

Amerson started in Wilson’s spot throughout the offseason practices and for the first two practices of training camp and could push Wilson for playing time this season.

There are times, however, that the two will be on the field at the same time. The Redskins’ current plans call for Wilson to start games on the outside, and then slide inside when facing three-receiver sets to cover the slot. Amerson will then play at right corner.

Asked for his opinion of Amerson, Wilson said, “Good kid. Big, tall kid, long arms, and he can definitely play in this league.”

Covering the slot isn’t new for Wilson. He served as Seattle’s nickelback for the first three years of his career, and late last season took on that role for Washington. (DeAngelo Hall started at left corner and slid inside on nickel packages for the bulk of last season before coaches turned to Wilson down the stretch).

Earlier this offseason, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett praised Wilson’s play in that capacity.

The plan is for Wilson to maintain that role, with free agent addition E.J. Biggers backing him up.

Wilson welcomes the challenge of covering slot receivers, and says the added responsibility has rejuvenated him.

“I love it in there. I played my first three years – that’s where I started out, and I have fun,” he said. “I enjoy it. I like rushing the pass and being on the inside with the quicker guys. It makes me excited to be in there again.”

He also believes that versatility will serve him well.

“That’s how you stay in the league. You have to be valuable,” Wilson said. “You have to create value for yourself that you can do everything. Whatever a team needs to win games, you have to be able to do it.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.

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Mike Jones · July 28, 2013

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