The 53: Extreme makeover at defensive back

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The 53: Extreme makeover at defensive back

The Redskins will report to training camp on July 25. Over the next five weeks they will undergo the process of cutting their 90-man roster down to 53. Which players will get those coveted spots and which will join the ranks of the unemployed? Over the next couple of weeks well go through position by position and try to predict what decisions Mike Shanahan and company will make.So far weve covered the offense, the linebackers, and the defensive line. Today well look at the defensive backs.There are 15 defensive backs on the roster, the Redskins will keep nine.Cornerback: DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield
Safety: Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson, Madieu Williams, DeJon Gomes
Out: Kevin Barnes, Brandyn Thompson, Morgan Trent, Jordan Bernstine, Travon Bellamy, Reed DoughtyChanges from 2011: LaRon Landry signed with Jets as a free agent, O. J. Atogwe was released, signed with Eagles, Byron Westbrook not resigned; Signed Griffin, Meriweather, Jackson, Williams, and Trent as free agents, drafted Crawford and Bernstine (both 7th round), signed Minnifield as undrafted free agent.BreakdownThis is the extreme makeover edition of The 53. The secondary may be better than it was last year or it may be worse but it seems certain that it will be very different. The Redskins are guaranteed to have two new starting safeties in the wake of the departures of both Landry and Atogwe. It appears that they are ready to bring in a whole new batch of nickel and dime backs and depth players.Hall and Wilson will be the staring corners. Barnes was the nickel back for the first 13 games of last season before the now-departed Westbrook started to get most of the nickel snaps at the end of the year. Griffin was signed to be the nickel back and the team may be ready to move on from Barnes after three years and give Minnifield and Crawford a shot. The rookies stood out during OTAs and minicamp and if they can replicate that performance when the pads go on it will be hard to keep them off of the roster.Thompson is in the mix as well. He is athletic enough to be the playmaker that the Redskins are looking for at the position. Thompson bounced between the active roster and the practice squad all year and they only played him four snaps on defense, however, and he will have to show that he can earn some playing time if he is going to stick around for a second season.If they decide that they would rather not go strictly with youth for depth, Trent could stick around. He bounced around with three teams last year but he does have 36 games of NFL experience under his belt including three starts.One wild card in the mix is Westbrook. He remains unsigned. Word was that the Redskins offered him a three-year deal but he thought he might be able to get a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere. If he is still looking after a week or so of camp there could be a reunion between the 26-year-old, who has been with the organization since 2007, and the Redskins.At safety, the 30-year-old Williams was not guaranteed a roster spot when he signed as a free agent but he worked his way into great position to grab one during the offseason. With Jackson limited as he recovers from a shoulder injury Williams spent a lot of time with the first unit and his play and leadership drew a lot of praise.However, Mike Shanahan said over and over that safety was one of two positions (along with running back) that are very difficult to judge without pads on. It would not be surprising at all to see Bernstine earn a spot over Williams or Gomes or to see Doughty survive one again.It is also possible that Bernstine or Doughty could make it as a fifth safety. They went with four most of last year so they could do so again. Or maybe they will go with nine linebackers instead of the 10 I projected and keep another safety. Or perhaps the additional defensive back spot will go to Barnes, who could be a reserve at both corner and safety.LinebackersIn: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Markus White, Chris Wilson, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff
Out: Donnell Holt, Bryan Kehl, Brian McNally, Monte LewisDefensive lineIn: Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris Neild
Out: Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Doug Worthington, Chris Baker, Delvin JohnsonRunning backsIn (4): Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young
Out: Tristan Davis, Alfred Morris, Antwon Bailey, Lennon CreerTight endsIn (3): Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Out: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau RelifordWide receiversIn (6): Anthony Armstrong, Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson
Out: Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Darius Hanks, Brian Hernandez, Lance Lewis, Samuel KirklandQuarterbacksIn (3): Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Out: Jonathan CromptonOffensive lineIn (9): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton
Out: Erik Cook, Grant Garner, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Nevin McCaskill, James Lee, Nick MartinezRich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email here and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

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Courtesy of Amanda Carrera

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

It’s very easy to get jaded when thinking about professional sports and social media, especially where those two things intersect, particularly when fans spew vitriolic comments after nearly every event. 

But, sometimes, pro sports and social media can produce great stories, and tremendous results. The recent story of Cameron Carrera counts as one of those stories.

A first-grader at Urbana Elementary School in Urbana, Md., Cameron was born with Spina bifida, a birth defect that damages the spinal cord and leads to other lifelong health issues.

Despite his condition, Cameron is a fun-loving kid, and like many young boys, loves football.

“He loves the Redskins, typical boy, the only thing that’s different for him is he can’t walk,” Amanda Carrera, Cameron’s mom, explained.

“He just loves the Redskins,” Carrera said of her 7-year-old son. “He always says one day when he’s older he wants to be a Redskins player. I say ‘we will figure it out.’”

Cameron, who uses a wheelchair, also has two sets of braces for his legs. His request? Put the Redskins logo on them. Twice a week Cameron endures tough physical therapy sessions - though he is paralyzed from the knees down he is working to walk using a walker. Despite the PT and obvious hurdles, Amanda remains amazed at her son’s positivity.

“He always says ‘I’ll walk when I’m older’ or ‘when I’m bigger I’ll play football,’” she said. “I don’t want to crush his dreams. We’ll figure it out.”

While Cameron’s football playing future may be in doubt, it’s remarkable what has happened for the Carreras during the last six months to dramatically improve their lives. 

“We’ve needed a handicap accessible van,” Amanda said, explaining that the van required a special mechanical seat for Cameron, “and $10,000 for this chair was just out of our reach.”

So knowing they needed the chair, the family started a Go Fund Me account last fall. 

“It’s crazy how much social media can help,” Amanda said. “Within two or three months, we have more than 200 people donate for our van.”

Once the Go Fund Me account became so popular, friends of friends joined in the effort to help Cameron. A friend offered tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll, where Cameron got to meet Ryan Kerrigan.

In May, the Mom’s Club of Urbana held a fundraiser to benefit Cameron, but prior to the fundraiser, Amanda explained to the group that her son loves the Skins. So what happened next? A signed Kirk Cousins jersey.

From there, through the help of more social media and more friends of friends, things really started to snowball. Once he learned more about Cameron’s condition from CSN Director of Strategic Partnerships Eric Shuster, Kerrigan sent along a video.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” Amanda said. “It’s really been a whirlwind and Cameron is just loving all the attention.”

After Kerrigan’s video, Redskins LB Will Compton joined the party, only with a distinct take. It seems Cameron had not heard of Compton, so the linebacker did his best to clear up any confusion.

“That video was hilarious,” Amanda said of Compton’s video. “That made it really special for him, he said, ‘Oh wow, he wants to meet me.’”

Kerrigan, reached for comment, made clear he didn't intend for his message to become a news item. He just wanted to reach out to Cameron after meeting him at the White House.

"It's a pleasure as a professional athlete to help bring a smile on a child's face," Kerrigan said of his video.

One interesting wrinkle in the Carrera family dynamic: Amanda is a lifelong Skins fan, and she obviously passed that on to her son. Her husband Danny, however, likes the Cowboys.

“That’s the funny part, my husband is a Cowboys fan,” Amanda said via text, before adding Danny is obviously “so thankful” for what the Redskins players are doing for Cameron.

Amanda, who works as a civilian at Fort Detrick, and Danny, who manages a Bed, Bath & Beyond, don’t know what to expect next from the Redskins. The videos have been surprises, though Amanda said she would love to bring Cameron to a practice to meet the players.

In late June, Cameron will celebrate his eighth birthday. With about a month lead time, maybe the ‘Skins players will come up with something fitting. 

Josh Norman sees the fiery side of Kirk Cousins at Redskins OTAs: 'I was like, calm down'

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Josh Norman sees the fiery side of Kirk Cousins at Redskins OTAs: 'I was like, calm down'

After two days practicing against Kirk Cousins, new Redskins CB Josh Norman knows how fiery the quarterback can get. And remember, Norman faced off against Cam Newton for years with the Panthers, so the corner knows a bit about excitable passers.

Minor sparks flew a bit on Wednesday when, after a 20-yard completion to Pierre Garçon, Cousins ran down the field to hug the receiver and celebrate what would have been a first down. Cousins' excitment outpaced the rest on the practice field and Norman was asked after the OTA session about his new quarterback.

"I was like - God, calm down," Norman said. "I don’t want to go there yet. I'm gonna be cool."

Perhaps Norman doesn't want to go there yet because he's new to the team, or maybe because it's May, but one way or another he will need to get used to Cousins. Off the field, Cousins is cerebral, soft-spoken and courteous.

On the field, it's different story. It's been evident in practice since Cousins took over as the starting quarterback, and the world saw Cousins' passion with the famous "You Like That" explosion. 

That doesn't mean Norman will back down.

"I came back out here and he looked away a couple times and didn’t throw the ball so I got a little jubilant," he said.

For a corner, the QB going a different direction almost means as much as being able to make a play on the ball. But the play in question, the completion to Garçon?

Norman knew exactly what happened.

"The last play the [starters] were out he threw a ball and he completed it and got excited again," Norman said. "I was like Kirk, man, we whipped y’all butt today. Calm it down a little bit."

At Wednesday's practice, the Redskins defense looked better than the offense. It's not worth taking much from a May session with no pads on, but the competition is real.

"We're only gonna make each other better," Norman said. "We just gotta keep challenging them, and they keep challenging us."

DeAngelo Hall on DeSean Jackson's OTAs absence: 'You want him here, but...'

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DeAngelo Hall on DeSean Jackson's OTAs absence: 'You want him here, but...'

DeSean Jackson’s teammates would prefer that the star receiver join them for OTAs, but one prominent Redskins veteran said this week that the locker room is confident Jackson is working out on his own.

“You want him here, but like I was telling someone else, you understand he has things going on,” safety DeAngelo Hall said. “He has a newborn and he lives all the way on the west coast. It’s not like his home is an hour-and-a-half away like mine, where I can jet down to Atlanta every now again and be around the family. He has to go a long way.”

“We understand that D-Jac is going to work,” Hall continued. “Same thing with Trent [Williams]. Trent went to Houston [to work with his personal trainer], just got back [on Wednesday] and he’s probably in the best shape I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. As long as guys are working, I don’t think we mind too much.”

Jackson has attended some of the Redskins’ offseason program, but he has not been present for this week’s OTA practices—the first group of 10 voluntary sessions. And, according to Coach Jay Gruden, it’s not clear when exactly Jackson will return. Gruden joked that Jackson will “probably show up next week, or it could be whenever.”

Jackson missed a portion of last year’s offseason program, as well. And while there was some speculation that his absence contributed to the hamstring injury that hampered him early in 2015, Gruden has consistently denied that there was any connection.

As for the team-building aspecct of OTAs, though, there’s little doubt that Jackson’s absence could have an impact in that area. 

“Obviously, you want guys around,” Hall added. “You want that camaraderie.You want to build that team unity. But that’s what training camp is for and [mandatory minicamp in June] is for. Yes, you want him here, but this is an offense he knows and he knows himself. When you’ve got a guy who knows himself, you want them to train the way they want to train.”

But Hall—and new teammate Josh Norman—want Jackson back at work for selfish reasons, too. They are eager to test themselves against the fastest wide receiver on the roster.

“I’m just excited about getting him out here,” Hall said. “Josh is excited about getting him out here. We want to go against him. We’re juiced up to get him out here.”