In his 13 years in the NFL, safety Ryan Clark has seen more than a few new rules enacted, existing rules tweaked and others given new emphasis.
So he’s not particularly ruffled by the league’s closer policing of defensive holding and illegal contact that’s tripping up so many defensive backs and slowing the pace of games through the first two preseason games.
For starters, Clark said Wednesday, he doesn’t think it will affect Washington’s secondary too much because so many of the team’s defensive backs excel at “off coverage” rather than press. Moreover, off coverage, which generally means playing seven yards deeper than the receiver, is a technique that defensive backs coach Raheem Morris teaches in practice.
While the penalties were a little too plentiful in Washington’s 24-23 victory over Cleveland Monday, with the Redskins losing 100 yards on 11 infractions, only two were defensive holding calls, with E.J. Biggers and Chase Minnifield each cited.
“We’re lucky to have guys that are extremely good in off coverages,” Clark said. “And we have a coach that coaches it really well.
“So if these rules are implemented the way they have been in the preseason, and are called the same way, I think it’ll be helpful to us. We have guys who can play without doing that.”
During training camp, a delegation of NFL officials visited each team to review the so-called “points of emphasis” heading into the 2014 regular season. Midway through the preseason, the one causing the most angst is the clampdown on any grabbing, pushing, shoving of wide receivers beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage.
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