Who will start at safety for the Redskins?

Who will start at safety for the Redskins?
April 26, 2014, 12:00 pm
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The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.

Who will be the starters at safety?

The Redskins’ have questions at the safety position and that is nothing new. Ryan Clark and Sean Taylor made up the tandem at the position in 2004-2005. Clark departed via free agency in 2006 and the Redskins have not started the same duo of safeties in a season since then. Clark is back after spending seven years and collecting two Super Bowl rings in Pittsburgh. Brandon Meriweather, who started 13 games last year, is back on a one-year contract. Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, taken in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively, of last years draft are back. How will it all get sorted out.

Tandler: If the season started today it seems likely that Clark and Meriweather would be the starters at safety. But the season doesn’t start for another four and a half months and a lot could change. Meriweather is 30 and Clark will turn 35 during Week 6 of the upcoming season so they are not long-term solutions. It would not be surprising to see another name added to the mix during the upcoming draft. A second- or third-round pick could get a chance to start immediately. Also, look for a strong challenge from Thomas. Last month Bruce Allen said that the team had planned to have Thomas start for them in 2013 until a preseason Lisfranc injury sidelined him for the season. They saw enough in Rambo to line him up as the starting safety for the first two games of the season before he was benched. The bottom line is that there are a lot of moving parts here. Clark and Meriweather should end up starting Week 1 when the Redskins travel to face the Texans. But it would not be surprising if there was one or maybe even two new starters by the time the Week 10 bye comes around.

El-Bashir: It’s not often that I completely agree with Tandler. But this is one of those rare times.  Based on experience, I would expect Meriweather and Clark to be the Week 1 starters. But check back with me around Week 4 or 5. Meriweather did not make enough of an impact last season and, as a result, was brought back on a $1 million contract that includes $145,000 guaranteed. Clark, meantime, was not thrilled with his initial offer from the Skins but eventually signed essentially the same deal Meriweather got. That tells me they are viewed as short-term solutions and that team hopes a youngster steps up and takes some of their playing time. I would expect Thomas to get the first crack at it. But Lisfranc injuries can be tricky, so we’ll have to see exactly where he is in his recovery. Rambo struggled to adjust to the NFL game a year ago, but if he improved his tackling and is willing to be better on special teams, he’ll be in the conversation, too. After all, he did start the first two games in 2013. The wild card in this situation is the draft. Do they take Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward with the 34th overall pick? They like him a lot. And, if they do, can he leapfrog Thomas and Rambo and challenge for starting duties, sooner rather than later? Again, check back in early October.

20 questions: