2006 Training Camp: Cornerbacks
By: Stephen Zorio 
Posted: 2006-07-31
Category: Washington Redskins News
It is said that no man is an island but the cornerbacks in Gregg Williams’ defense must often feel as though they are on one.

Williams relies on a variety of well-disguised blitzes to pound the opposing team into submission and he relies on his corners to handle man-on-man coverage to allow for those blitzes. In fact, he occasionally uses those corners to rush the quarterback.

Additionally, the corners in Williams’ system must be adept at playing the run and need to be solid tacklers.

That is all on top of the difficult tasks corners face in today’s receiver-friendly NFL.

So the question remains: Do the Redskins have the cornerbacks that meet those requirements?

The answer: absolutely.

The names are as follows: Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers, Kenny Wright, Ade Jimoh, Christian Morton, Dimitri Patterson, Chris Hawkins and John Eubanks.

Barring injury, Springs and Rogers are the starters at right and left corner, respectively.

Springs, 31, has been nothing short of spectacular since signing with the Redskins in 2004. The knock on Springs was that he couldn’t stay healthy, however Springs has silenced that criticism by playing 30 games the past two seasons while amassing 99 tackles and six interceptions.

He is extremely reliable; he is not caught out-of-position and has been frequently paired with the opposing team’s top wideout. In addition, his six sacks in his initial campaign with the team show his versatility as an occasional pass rusher.

Rogers, 25, had a very solid rookie campaign, playing in 12 games and elevating himself to a starter while notching 42 tackles and two interceptions. He will only get better with experience and, like Springs, has the size to cover today’s bigger, more physical receivers.

Wright’s signing has been touted on this site; he is expected to occupy the nickel corner slot, a position that is important in the overall scheme of the Redskins defense. His size and aggressive nature blend well with Williams’ style.

The other names on the depth chart will be primarily competing for spots in the nickel and dime packages.

And Jerry Gray will be there to help them do just that.

Gray, the team’s new secondary coach, played corner in the NFL for nine years (including four Pro Bowl trips) before moving into the coaching ranks. He spent the past five seasons as the Bills defensive coordinator.

He is a very active coach who values athleticism, speed and technique.
His track record bodes well for the young group of corners vying for the additional spots and the group shows definite promise.

Jimoh and Morton in particular should begin to realize their promise under Gray’s tutelage.

The Redskins ranked 10th in the league in passing defense last season, the additions of Gray and Wright coupled with the veteran leadership of Springs and the continued growth of Rogers means this unit should improve on that ranking in the coming season.

And given the number of potent offenses the Redskins will be facing next season, that improvement comes not a moment too soon.

-Stephen Zorio
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