Quick Links

Need for speed? Jay Gruden confident in Redskins options at safety

Need for speed? Jay Gruden confident in Redskins options at safety

The Redskins struggled at the safety positions in 2016, dealing with position changes and injuries, and the front office moved early in free agency to address the back end of the secondary.

Washington signed D.J. Swearinger away from the Cardinals in the opening days of the 2017 league year.

Swearinger will likely join second-year Redskins player Su'a Cravens in the back of Greg Manusky's defense. Cravens played linebacker as a rookie, but word came out late last season he would play safety in 2017.

Both Swearinger and Cravens are playmakers and big hitters, but the question has emerged if either player contains the speed neccessary to keep up with some of the elite receivers that play in the NFC East. At his USC Pro Day in 2016, Cravens ran a 4.69 40-yard dash. At the NFL Combine in 2013, Swearinger ran a 4.67 40-yard dash.

For Redskins coach Jay Gruden, there isn't much reason to worry.

"Knowing Su’a, I don’t think there’s a lot of things he can’t do so I’m excited to see him back there," Gruden told to reporters during the NFL League Meetings. "I think he’s going to have a lot more range than people give him credit for right now. He didn’t run the greatest 40 time, but he plays fast on the football field and that’s more important."

Gruden allowed that the team has some questions with Cravens simply because he hasn't played safety yet in the NFL. Other Redskins players have voiced plenty of confidence in Cravens' ability in the back end, and much of his work from college would suggest he should be capable.

Swearinger has a stronger track record at safety, though he's also on his fifth NFL team since being drafted in the second round in 2013 by the Texans.

"D.J., when you watch him in his career, he maybe disappointed a little bit early, but last year I think he played as good as any safety in the NFL," Gruden said. "He’s done it in different spots, wasn’t just a box safety, he played in the hole, he played half the field, he played corners, he played everything. Very productive, brings a great energy."

RELATED: UPDATED 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Beyond Swearinger and Cravens, the 'Skins have options on the roster in Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett and DeAngelo Hall. 

"That’s the one thing with D-Hall, when you watch him play safety he sticks his face in there. He’s a very physical guy so we have to get him right," Gruden said. "We have Will Blackmon who came a long way last year too and Deshazor. I really liked what he did when he came in the game. We matched him up against tight ends and he had a big interception against Philadelphia. He did some good things. He’s a factor on special teams so he won’t be going anywhere."

Hall's offseason will be interesting to watch. The former Pro Bowl cornerback has dealt with injuries in each of the last three seasons and is still working on his conversion to safety. In the NFL since 2004, Hall acknowledged he might have to re-work his contract to stay with the team, but most signs point to that happening. 

Improved safety play, and just improved tackling from the safety position, could lead to an improved Redskins defense this fall. 

DON’T MISS OUT - #REDSKINSTALK PODCAST PARTY APRIL 5 AT PENN QUARTER SPORTS TAVERN!

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 28, 29 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 178 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 74 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 19
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 43
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 66

The five best wide receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

We’ve looked at the best quarterbacks and the best running backs on the Redskins’ schedule. Now here are the five best wide receivers they will face as determined by 2016 receiving yards.

Odell Beckham, Giants, 1,367 yards in 2016—Josh Norman didn’t exactly shut him down in their two meetings as Beckham has 12 receptions for 165 yards. But Beckham didn’t score any touchdowns or have any other game-changing plays against the Redskins. Their first matchup this year comes under the lights at FedEx Field on Thanksgiving. Save room for popcorn after your Thanksgiving feast.  

Amari Cooper, Raiders, 1,153 yards—There was plenty of chatter that the Redskins wanted to draft Cooper when they have the fifth selection in 2015. But the Raiders snapped him up right before the Redskins picked. Cooper has been a steady and consistent target for Derek Carr. In fact, Carr should get Cooper a really, really nice Christmas present with some of the $125 million contract he just signed, a deal that Cooper helped him get.

Michael Thomas, Saints, 1,136 yards—Others sucked up all the rookie of the year conversation in 2016 but Thomas, a second-round pick out of Ohio State was very worthy of some accolades. To be sure, the Saints’ offense, led by perennial 5,000-yard passer Drew Brees, is very friendly to racking up a lot of receiving yards. With Brandin Cooks traded to the Patriots, look for Thomas to get even more opportunities in 2017.

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, 1,128 yards—He is coming off career highs in receptions (94) and receiving yards (1,128). Baldwin has only played against the Redskins twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs and he hasn’t done much damage.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos, 1,083 yards—You have to think that Thomas misses Peyton Manning already. In 2016, he had his worst production in five years. Still, he made his fifth straight Pro Bowl.

Pierre Garçon, 49ers, 1,041 yards—Adding a sixth here because, hey, we know this guy. He was the Redskins’ leading receiver three of the five seasons he was in Washington. I don’t think there is any reason he should want revenge. He was treated well and played well while in Washington. But certainly, he has a ton of professional pride and he will want to do well against his former team.

Best of the rest: Larry Fitzgerald led the NFL in receptions last year with 107 although he averaged only 9.6 yards per catch. Demaryius Thomas’ teammate Emmanuel Sanders also had over 1,000 yards receiving. So did Michael Crabtree, Cooper’s teammate in Oakland. I’m not a big fan of Alshon Jeffery but he instantly becomes the Eagles’ best receiver. Brandon Marshall also came into the division with the Giants. And don’t forget about Dez Bryant even though he appears to have taken a step back; he still is very dangerous.

In all, the Redskins will face nine receivers who gained over 1,000 yards last year.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Following a slew of reports that cast doubt on the Redskins reaching a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, ESPN's Dianna Russini tweeted Tuesday that the impass is not about money. 

If the report is true, then Washington has run out of good options for retaining Cousins in the long term.

It's possible the team could use a third-straight franchise tag to keep him next season, but the price tag around $34 million would be astronomical for one season.

The transition tag would be worth in the neighborhood of $28 million. 

Russini doesn't elaborate on the reasons behind her report that Cousins wouldn't be happy in Washington regardless of price. But it's important to note that both teams and players have incentive to create leverage in contract negotiations through the media. 

The Redskins have until July 17 to reach a long-term deal with Cousins. 

MORE REDSKINS: Backup center again a question mark for the Redskins