Washington Redskins: The Plot Thickens in the Defensive Backfield

Scott FitzGeraldCorrespondent IJune 2, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 6: Cornerback DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins takes the field before taking on the San Francisco 49ers at FedExField on November 6, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Sure they're just in shorts. Sure it's only June.

But we're no closer to knowing what the Washington Redskins defensive backfield will look like this fall.

The team currently has 15 DBs under contract during OTAs. Many of these players have experience at multiple positions.

Depending on your general disposition, you may be either a glass half full or half empty kind of Skins fan. 

The negative or concerned fan may question the team's thought process going into training camp. Why are there no clearly defined roles or starters for a squad that struggled mightily last season?

On the other hand, a generally positive fan may look at the competition in the backfield as a welcomed change. For the first time in awhile, the team is bringing in as many talented players as they can get and are holding an open competition.

The plot has taken a new twist this past week during OTAs.

As reported by Rich Campbell of The Washington Times, this past week brought even more interoperability to the defensive backfield. New DB coach Raheem Morris has been stressing flexibility among his unit and has used DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and Kevin Barnes in multiple roles.

Hall saw time in the slot and at safety, while Wilson and Barnes also saw time lining up at safety. Hall hopes that Morris and crew will use him in a Charles Woodson-esque role this year: lining Hall up in different positions during different packages all with an emphasis on playing the ball regardless of location on field. 

Hall is the best playmaker the team has on defense but continually struggles in coverage. By rotating him around and limiting his scope to making plays on the ball, Morris could limit Hall's impact as a liability in coverage while increasing the team's takeaway numbers.

What remains to be seen is who will step up to fill the role of cover specialist among the DBs. When the team faces an All-Pro athlete at the wide receiver position, they're going to need one player capable of playing man coverage. 

In the past, the team has used safety help over the top to try and help the corner in coverage. But with the team focusing on more complex packages, formations and looking to utilize more zone, I wonder if the team will run as many full-house blitz packages knowing how vulnerable it leaves them down the field. 

Either way, I'm glad to see the team is embracing competition and flexibility among their defensive backs. However, it makes it that much harder to forecast the final roster with so many moving pieces in play. 

Let's see if most of the unit can stay healthy this offseason and really show their progression and growth in Week 1.


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