Tough Decisions On The Horizon - Safeties
With the first round of cuts just eight days away and the September 3 deadline to finalize the 53-man roster looming, the Washington Redskins are facing some difficult decisions; the most tumultuous coming at the safety, running back, and linebacker positions.
In a three part series, THN will explore each of these positions and their likely outcomes.
At safety, it seems like personnel is irrelevant. No matter who takes the field, the safeties are making plays; they seem to be in on every tackle. The starters are likely set, with Sean Taylor lining up in the free safety position and Matt Bowen taking the strong safety slot.
Even with the starters in place, it is important to remember that one of the keys to the success of the Redskins defense last year was depth at the safety position. Regardless of who was plugged in, that player stepped up and kept the quality of play consistent. This season, Gregg Williams has so much talent at the position that choosing whom to keep may prove difficult.
After being held without a tackle in a week one loss to the Carolina Panthers, 9-year veteran Omar Stoutmire led the team in tackles with
five in week two. His veteran leadership could make him an attractive addition to the Redskins' secondary.
Former Buffalo Bill, Pierson Prioleau, was brought in to contribute on special teams. His defensive play has made him even more valuable because of the plug-and-play nature of the Redskins' defensive scheme. Prioleau led the team with 5 tackles in week one and added 4 more in week two, giving him a team-high total of 9 tackles this preseason. It will be hard for the team to release a guy who combines effectiveness in the defensive scheme with excellent special teams play.
Siddeeq Shabazz was signed by the Redskins on August 17, and was thrown to the wolves just two days later against Cincinnati. He responded with 2.5 tackles and some of the hardest hits of the evening. Shabazz is certainly a dark horse, but the safety is hungry and it shows in his play. Shabazz will need to continue to play hard to make the team, but if Friday night's loss to Cincinnati was any indication, playing hard will not be a problem.
After the Washington Post erroneously reported that Ryan Clark was cut during preseason last year, the LSU product not only made the team, but also excelled, starting 11 of the 15 games he appeared in for the Burgundy and Gold. Clark recorded 3 tackles in the Carolina game this preseason, but was unable to play against the Bengals in week two.
Former Dallas Cowboy Tony Dixon was brought in to bolster the special teams unit and provide depth at safety, but has yet to make a tackle as a Redskin. The 5-year veteran was unable to play against Carolina and saw limited action against Cincinnati. He could be the odd man out if this pattern continues.
The Expected Outcome
The Redskins started last season with five safeties. With seven on the roster, that likely means two will be cut. Given the performance of Ryan Clark last season and the preseason performances by Omar Stoutmire and Pierson Prioleau, Shabazz and Dixon could find themselves left off of the final roster. Dixon and Stoutmire could trade places if the team decides to go with youth over experience, but for that to happen, Dixon will need to get on the field and start making plays.
This article was released on 2005-08-23.
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