2012 Training Camp Battle: Safety
With free agency and the draft allowing the Redskins to address roster needs, a position that was not tended to as aggressively as others was safety.
The defense was already in good shape and was made stronger by re-signing London Fletcher, Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston. That helped the Redskins focus primarily on improving a turnover-laden offense that needed more firepower.
Even with LaRon Landry on the team, the Redskins were already thin at safety. Their decision to let him leave via free agency due to an injury dispute left the position depleted. A five-year, $26 million deal last year with Oshiomogho Atogwe turned into a one-year experiment that resulted in his release this March. He has since signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The team decided to shore up the safety spot by signing veterans Madieu Williams, Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson. The latter two have had their run-ins with the law but can become real assets if they keep their heads on straight.
Meriweather enjoyed a great stretch from 2008-2010 with the New England Patriots but was cut last September and latched on with the Chicago Bears. In 2011, he only started four games and his production was down from years past but he still can be an attacking playmaker when he sets his mind to it.
However, he was fined multiple times last season for his vicious hits and has been frequently over his career for his play on the field. Off the field, he hasn't been squeaky clean, either. He was arrested on suspicion of DWI within weeks of signing with the Redskins.
Jackson has also had off-the-field trouble himself, which led to a four-game suspension to start the 2009 season and an indefinite suspension following the second game of the 2010 season that ended up lasting 56 weeks. He has also dealt with injuries throughout his career.
As a Maryland native, he is hoping to start fresh with the team he grew up watching in more ways than one. His best season came in 2009 when he collected 60 tackles, eight passes defended, five interceptions, two touchdowns and two forced fumbles.
Williams, also a Maryland native, is on his fourth team since 2007 after being a 2004 second round selection by the Cincinnati Bengals. His top seasons came in 2004 and 2006 when he posted at least 90 tackles, 10 passes defended and three interceptions in both years.
The only returning veteran is Reed Doughty, who started 11 games last season and put up 88 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
All four will compete for the starting safety roles and will be aided by 2011 fifth round pick DeJon Gomes and 2012 seventh-rounder Jordan Bernstine out of Iowa, who can also return kickoffs.
In 2011 Gomes tied Nebraska teammate Roy Helu for second on the team in games played by a rookie (15) and games started by a rookie (5). He contributed 35 tackles and two passes defended in his rookie season.
With safety still considered the weakest position on the roster in July, there will be an all-out battle at camp. If no one stands out, this could turn out to be a starter-by-committee situation.
This article was released on 2012-07-10.
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