Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett expressed confidence in his backup defensive backs on Thursday, three days before the Redskins will face one of the NFLs most prolific passers on the road.Were 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 hes 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 leagues 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.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins repeatedly sounded optimistic about his ongoing contract negotations with the organization, though he acknowledged the talks will probably go until the last minute.
"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said.
Speaking Wednesday to the media after an OTA session, Cousins explained that talks with the Redskins have been positive and ongoing. He also admitted that he doesn't expect a deal to get finished before the July 15th franchise tag deadline.
In 2016, conversations between the Redskins and Cousins largely broke down before the tag deadline. That seems to be a different story in 2017, and while it may only be a glimmer of hope, it's an encouraging development for Washington fans that want to keep their passer.
"It's been very positive," he said. Of July 15th, Cousins said, "it will be a telling date, as it was last summer."
Over the last two seasons as starter, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards, twice breaking the franchise single-season passing record. In 2015, Cousins emerged in the second half of the year to play some terrific football and lead the Redskins to a division title. In 2016, Cousins never quite hit the same highs as 2015, but was much more consistent and piled up passing yards.
Redskins team president Bruce Allen said earlier this week he remains positive about a long-term deal for Cousins. Allen maintained that talks are ongoing with Cousins' representatives, and similarly to Cousins, expects the bulk of the talks closer to July 15th.
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You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.
But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.
“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.
“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”
The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.
In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.
“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”
Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.
Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.
“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”
Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday.
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