Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Improved tackling has ranked among the chief emphasis areas on defense since the Washington Redskins reported for training camp, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said he has started to see the payoff.

As he reviewed film of Washington’s preseason opener against New England, Haslett tallied five missed tackles in 58 snaps from his first, second and third units combined.

Haslett obviously would like to see zero missed tackles. But the coach said any time a defense has fewer than 10, he chalks that up as a good day.

Haslett also said he gives some players a pass on missed tackles if they go about those attempts in the right way, and if his teammates are doing their part as well.

“I think I had 58 plays, 51 snaps and there were [additional] guys in the picture,” Haslett said. “So if you’re going to miss and you’re going to be aggressive and other guys are following you up, then that’s okay because that’s what you want. You want guys to take a shot while knowing somebody has their back.”

Haslett said the improved tackling stems from the increased emphasis, and more practice time in pads.

As noted early in training camp, Jay Gruden circled poor tackling as the biggest weakness of the defense, and because of that, he wanted as many full-pad practice sessions as possible, and he wanted his defensive coaches schooling the players on the finer techniques of tackling.

“He’s put the pads on more,” Haslett said of Gruden. “Guys are going at it and hitting. I think that helps.”

The Redskins rarely practiced in full pads under Mike Shanahan because he wanted to keep players fresh. Shanahan would often say that drilling with tackling dummies would take care of things.

Haslett never spoke out against Shanahan. But when discussing the tackling emphasis this week, he certainly indicated that he shares Gruden’s philosophy on the need for live tackling in practices.

“If you don’t practice your trade, it’s hard to be good at anything. If you don’t tackle in practice, it’s hard to be good,” Haslett said. “You can’t expect the players to go out there and not have pads on and go out there and tackle. It doesn’t work that way. We’ve emphasized that more in this camp, we’ve gone I pads more, we’ve tackled more, and it’s showed up. We’ve got to continue to get better. You always want to improve and have no missed tackles at some point. But I think any time you practice your trade, you get better at it.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

The Redskins practice at 8:35 a.m. on Thursday and Friday.

Also from The Post:

Some assembly required: Redskins still coming together as a team

Mike Jones’s 53-man roster projection

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