By Tarik El-Bashir
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett expressed confidence in his backup defensive backs on Thursday, three days before the Redskins will face one of the NFL’s most prolific passers on the road.
“We’re not concerned,” Haslett said at Redskins Park. “We have good players on the back end. The guys that are going to play for Brandon [Meriweather] will fill in and do a good job. Last year they did a nice job for us and [this year] they are more experienced.”
Meriweather, who had been projected to start at strong safety, will miss 2-4 weeks with two sprained ligaments in his left knee, Coach Mike Shanahan revealed on Wednesday.
Haslett did not specify which reserve will step in for Meriweather, but the early indications are it could be DeJon Gomes, who, along with Reed Doughty, is listed next on the depth chart.
Gomes, however, is better in coverage, which figures to be important against Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and a high-octane Saints' offense that racked up 334 passing yards per game last season.
“I think he’s made great improvement in the back end in the offseason,” Haslett said of Gomes’ cover skills.
A week ago, the Redskins also lost Tanard Jackson to a year-long suspension for his third violation of league’s substance abuse policy. Jackson had been listed as a reserve at the time of his suspension, but was in the mix to receive ample playing time at both safety spots.
Asked whether the depleted secondary puts more pressure on the Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and the rest of the Redskins’ front seven to fluster Brees, Haslett agreed.
“We kind of rely on them a lot anyway,” Haslett said. “They have a great challenge this week.”