By Tarik El-Bashir
The knee injury Brandon Meriweather suffered prior to Sunday’s game in Tampa forced the coaching staff to make a flurry of unexpected adjustments to the game plan -- and the lineup -- just two hours before kickoff.
“The other day, we [thought] Meriweather was going to play,” Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Thursday. “We had a lot of plans for him, things to do. He actually becomes our third corner in a lot of situations. So we had to scrap all that stuff.”
Meriweather, who had missed almost all of the preseason and the first three games with two sprained ligaments in his left knee, was expected to make his regular season debut before colliding with teammate Aldrick Robinson during warmups. The veteran safety aggravated the same knee.
“You’re sitting in the locker room crossing things off, adding things you can do,” Haslett said of adjusting the game plan on the fly. “It changes your plans. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses and Meriweather has great strengths. He’s an ex-corner that can be a really good cover-guy and we lost that ability.”
With Meriweather unable to suit up, Haslett decided to start Reed Doughty in his place and designate DeJon Gomes as the backup. Gomes, interestingly, had started the previous three games as the Redskins’ secondary struggled.
Through four games, the unit has yielded a league-worst 11 passing touchdowns and second-worst 326.3 passing yards per game.
“We just thought Reed deserved the opportunity,” Haslett said. “Nothing against D.J., but we were trying to find the right combinations. Since the start of the year [we thought] Tanard Jackson and Meriweather were going to the two safeties. It didn’t work out that way.”
It’s unclear when Meriweather will return, but Coach Mike Shanahan has said he’ll miss at least Sunday’s game against Matt Ryan and the undefeated Falcons. Meriweather did not practice Wednesday but was spotted walking without a brace Thursday morning.