By Rich Tandler
For the past few days here on Real Redskins we have been looking at the 2011 Washington Redskins position by position and player by player. Earlier, we looked at the offense (quarterbacks, offensive line, wide receivers, running backs and tight ends). Yesterday we looked at the defensive line and linebackers and now, the defensive backs go under the microscope.
The book on Hall is well known by now. He will make big plays for his team and he will allow them for the other guys. The way to minimize his weakness and maximize his strength is to have a strong pass rush in front of him. That way, the quarterback doesn’t have time to fine the receiver who has beaten Hall down the field. If Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan can terrorize opposing passers the way the Redskins hope they can, Hall could have a big year.
Wilson (pictured) may be a clone of Hall, a corner who likes to gamble and will occasionally get burned. He did show that he has the hands that Carlos Rogers, the man he replaced, never seemed to develop when he made a leaping interception against the Bucs in the preseason finale. If Wilson shows a tendency to gamble and lose too often, will make it even more important for the Redskins to develop a consistent pass rush to disrupt the opposing quarterback.
Landry was having his best season as a pro last year after being moved back to his natural position at strong safety after playing out of position at free for two years. However, an Achilles injury sidelined him for the last six games of the season. That injury and then a hamstring pull have kept him out of practice all of training camp and will have him on the sideline for at least the season opener and perhaps beyond. If he is in the game, the Redskins have a dynamic, Pro Bowl level player on defense.
Atogwe will provide a safety net for the Redskins defense. Last year, the Redskins wanted to let Landry play aggressively but Kareem Moore was unreliable playing as the last line of defense. Atogwe should be able to fill that role well. A hamstring injury kept him out of a lot of the preseason and training camp but he should be good to go for the season.
Doughty will fill in for Landry while he gets ready to play and if anything should happen to Atogwe he will fill in for him. He is not the most imposing physical presence out there but he is very heady and gets the job done at safety when needed and on special teams when he’s not.
While Phillip Buchanon is out on a suspension for a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, Barnes will get the opportunity to earn the nickel cornerback job. With as many three- and four-receiver sets as NFL teams use these days that essentially is a starting job. He showed some versatility last year when injuries forced him to start at safety toward the end of the year. But the Redskins want him to be a corner and he will get his chance.
As he has been for the past two years, Westbrook will the on the field in special teams and in some passing situations. You seldom notice him when he is in at cornerback which, at that position, is a good thing.
The fifth-round pick did not show too much during the early training camp practices but he showed that he’s a gamer. He recorded 14 tackles and a sack during the preseason and the confidence he gained there showed up in practice. With Landry out he will be active serving as the backup safety and will play special teams as well.
One preseason play does not put a player on the team but Thompson’s interception against the Colts, when he looked like a pro tracking the ball and making the catch, went a long way towards helping him survive the cut. As the year goes on he will push Westbrook and maybe even Barnes for playing time.