The Washington Post

Clark: Crackdown on defensive holding might not hurt Redskins much

Free safety Ryan Clark works his way around a dummy during training camp. ( John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

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.

Related: Penalties adding five minutes to games | Flags flying this preseason | Graphic

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.

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.

More from The Post:

Punter Clingan is cutThompson plans to practice

Griffin understands the need to protect himself, and the ball

Outsider: A closer look at things Griffin did well, not-so-well on Monday

Wise: Referee avoided Washington games for eight years because of the name

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.



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Mike Jones · August 20, 2014