With all the media coverage following Robert Griffin III’s recovery it’s easy to forget there were other story lines that came out of training camp this summer. While the health of RGIII’s knee is unquestionably the most important factor in the outcome of the season, there are several other very important variables. Here is the first installment of a 5-part series where I will countdown what I believe to be the biggest headlines and factors going into the Washington Redskins’ 2013 season.
5. The Cornerback Position
It’s no surprise that the Redskins have long since been lacking in this position. Will the 2013 season bring positive changes, or will this continue to be the weakest link in an otherwise strong secondary?
At the center of this question is DeAngelo Hall. For the past several years he has proven to be both an asset and a liability. While fairly talented, he often allows his frustration get the best of him, resulting in pointless penalties and unsuccessful plays. Earlier this offseason he was released by the team, who then re-signed him less than a month later.
Hall seemed to put both ego and pride aside in the restructuring of his contract, and clearly demonstrated that he wants to remain in Washington. This inspires hope that maybe, just maybe, this experience will serve as the kick in the pants he needs to work on channeling his aggression into strong performances on the field versus volatile outbursts.
Hall showed his many faces last year, ranging from getting thrown out of the Steelers game to almost single-handedly shutting down Dez Bryant for the majority of the Week 17 game. Hopefully he will put his best foot forward when it comes time to step onto the field. The Redskins will likely continue to use him in the slot.
This means that the Redskins will go into the season with both of the starting cornerbacks from last year, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. Both veterans are entering the final year of their contracts.
However, the Redskins introduced some new names this offseason. Among those are E.J. Biggers, who joined the team after spending the past four seasons with Tampa Bay. Last year he had one interception and two forced fumbles. Biggers stands at 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds and will likely be used as a nickel corner.
Along with depth, the Redskins seem to be adding height to the position. Hall stands at 5-foot-10 and Wilson at 5-foot-9. This has been a largely unspoken problem when facing receivers like 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson and 6-foot-4 A.J. Green. This will likely come in handy especially if the trend from last year continues where opponents employ more passing schemes then rushing against the secondary.
The Redskins also added several rookies to the position, including second-round draft pick David Amerson. The team used their first pick in this year’s draft to acquire the 6-foot-1 cornerback from NC State. From the reports thus far coming out of Richmond, he has continued to demonstrate his potential. Amerson saw playing time in 9 games as a true freshman in college and has steadily progressed into, what many believe, to be a true contender for a starting position in the NFL.
Joining him are 5-foot-11 Richard Crawford and 6-foot-0 Chase Minnifield. Minnifield joined the Redskins practice squad in 2012 after suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2011 at the University of Virginia which required microfracture surgery. However on the last day of the offseason practices the Kentucky native tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which rendered him unable to play for the duration of the 2012 season. Since then he has rejoined the team for the 2013 practices, eager to show what he can do.
Crawford was drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 draft. He recorded one interception last year, and was also occasionally called upon as a punt returner. While is he listed as defensive back on the Redskins roster, it is clear that the coaches are experimenting with his versatility.
Heading into week 3 of the preseason it has thus far been too close to accurately predict who will and will not make the team. With two games left before the start of the regular season they each need to step up and play their best if they want to secure a spot on the roster.