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Ryan Clark has already become a leader in the secondary while honoring Sean Taylor in the process.
It's not through laziness that the safety and cornerback positions are being lumped together. Both have been an area of vulnerability for Washington, probably since Sean Taylor's death. While Gruden hasn't found a solution, there is suddenly a little optimism among the group.
Ryan Clark—returning for his second stint and wearing Taylor's No. 21 in practice as a tribute to his friend—has already shown why veteran leadership is crucial to development. Practices have been filled with Clark instructing young corners David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland in what to look for pre-snap or how to be alert for a certain play.
It's a stretch to say that this alone makes his one-year deal worthwhile, but it's a factor that contributed to his arrival.
Clark and Brandon Meriweather will start at safety, which leaves Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo as the backups. Thomas is recovering from a Lisfranc injury but was penciled in as a starter before his rookie season was over. Rambo, meanwhile, has to show his tackling has improved from last year.
Both players have talent, but a lot depends on Clark and Meriweather staying healthy. In Meriweather's case, he also has to stop leading with his head and getting suspended.
Amerson and DeAngelo Hall will be the starting corners, with newcomer Tracy Porter covering the slot. That leaves Breeland, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield and E.J. Biggers fighting it out for roles elsewhere.
Biggers has the ability to play safety, although he didn't do it particularly well last year. That should keep him around. He's only on a one-year deal, however, so his presence won't solve anything past this season.
It's difficult to know how many corners Gruden will keep, but it would be a shame to lose either Crawford or Minnifield. Both have potential but have struggled with injury. Crawford is coming off an ACL, MCL and LCL tear, while Minnifield is healthy for the first time since before he had knee surgery in college.
As with the linebackers, there are probably going to be some frustrating times ahead. However, any sort of step in the right direction would be welcomed.