The Washington Times - June 12, 2013, 10:55AM

Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett conversed with reporters Wednesday morning for the first time since last season. He discussed in detail the offseason additions to the secondary and the overall state of that unit. He provided significant insight on a variety of subjects. Below is the full transcript of every question involving the secondary. Enjoy!

On what he has seen out of rookie CB David Amerson and rookie safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo:

SEE RELATED:


“I like what I see. Obviously there’s a lot of teaching that’s involved and a lot of learning, but I think things are starting to click in for all three of them. I think all three of them are going to be good football players.”

On whether the rookie DBs have progressed how he anticipated, given how they were practicing with the first-string defense for a bit on Tuesday:

“Yeah, we kind of worked them in. We worked David in with the ones; Bacarri more than Phillip because Phillip missed a week [due to Fresno St.’s later graduation]. But I think all three of them are coming along very well.”

On what he likes about each of the rookie DBs:

“I’ll start with David. He’s a guy that has great ball skills, great length, good speed, has the ability to play man or zone. I think that’s probably the biggest thing about him, that he’s a playmaker. He had 13 interceptions as a sophomore and six as a junior and really kind of struggled his junior year. We just think he’s ball playmaking skills are off the chart.

“Phillip would be the second one—same thing. Got great ball skills; has the ability to come up with key plays, big interceptions. Both of them led the NCAA in interceptions. Phillip has got good size, good enough speed. The guy likes football, understands football, studies football.

“And then Bacarri is a…really good athlete. He was a high school quarterback; also has good ball skills. Has a chance to make a lot of plays for you. That’s what wins in the league. We figure last year we had 31 turnovers, which was really good for a defense, but we have a chance to pick up three guys that can add to those totals through the interception market.”

On what he has seen in Amerson that has surprised him:

“I don’t think anything surprises. He’s very knowledgeable. He understands the game. He is a guy that spends a lot of time—those guys spend a lot of time—in the office. David really hasn’t surprised us with anything. I like what I see with him. I think he’s going to be a good player.”

On his coaching points with Amerson, given how he struggled giving up big plays last season at N.C. State:

“You know what, really? He struggled. He got surprised the first game of the year. Tennessee comes out with these two wideouts; one was a junior college transfer. He didn’t know who he was. He gets beat on a double move a couple times; had some bad body language. He struggled the first half of the season. I think after that he settled in. He played like he did his sophomore year. To me, it’s just a maturity thing. A young guy—you understand he’s still young. When you watch him move, when you watch him close on him, everything is smooth and effortless. It’s ball skills and everything that comes with it.”

On how much drafting three DBs will improve the defense overall:

“Well, first of all, can you play with three rookies at one time? I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but we’ll see. But we’ll play the best players. I think over time, all three of those guys are going to be on the field at some point. I don’t know when that’s going to be.”

On how SS Brandon Meriweather fits into his plans for the secondary:

“Brandon hasn’t come back yet. Brandon will be back for training camp. I’m sure Brandon is going to be in the mix. So far it has been him. Reed does a good job in situations. Jordan did a good job for us last year in certain situations. We’ll put the best guys on the field, or a combination of safeties, until they’re ready to play.”

On whether he might not know his safety depth chart until after the preseason:

“It all depends on what happens with Brandon. We’ll see how that plays out.”

On what in the NFL is difficult for a rookie safety to adapt to:

“The complexity of the defense. The number of defenses we have in, including zones and blitzes. It’s not the easiest defense to learn from that standpoint. And they’ve got to play two positions. They’ve got to learn strong and free. You can’t just play one position. It’s just going to take reps. They’re going to need time on the grass. I think as they get more time in training camp and we get more reps on there, they’ll start to shine.”

On whether it’s realistic for one of the rookie safeties to win a starting job to begin the season:

“I think one of them, yeah. I really do think one of them will be on the grass. I’m not sure which one, but one of them I think is going to—I think they’ll all help us. I think all three of them are going to help us. I just don’t know to what extent yet.”

On whether he views Thomas and Rambo as free safeties:

“Right now we’re saying Rambo is a free safety and Phillip is a strong safety, but that doesn’t really make a difference because the change of strength [in the formation], the motions, the shifts, the adjustments. We don’t run them across the field, so they’re always strong and free. So they’re going to have to know both positions.”

On whether the free safety position unlocks the depth chart because Meriweather has done so well in the past at the line of scrimmage, and the same with safeties Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes:

“Brandon is another one; he play both. He can play free or strong. It’s a good thing to have. Like I said, they’ve got to know it anyways.”

On the keys for Reed Doughty:

“Well, every year Reed starts for us. You can’t discount Reed. I think brings something to a football team that, 1) he’s a really good special teams player. He’s really intelligent. He understands the game. He studies the game. He’s really good around the box. He makes a lot of tackles. He’s good in the run game. I think everybody has some form of deficiency in the NFL. What Reed brings to your football team is invaluable.”

On how Doughty masks those deficiencies:

“With smarts. With great tackling, great competitiveness, and he has a good feel for the game.”

On whether he believes CB DeAngelo Hall will take over slot corner duties against this year:

“I don’t know. We’ve played [EJ] Biggers there in the offseason. We’ve played [Richard] Crawford there. Josh, Obviously, he’s not practicing. We kind of limited D-Hall a little bit to the outside. But we’ve got some guys that can do it this year. Last year we were kind of limited to one to two guys.”

On second-year CB Richard Crawford’s greatest improvement:

“Just his understanding of the scheme. Like I said, everybody has got limitations. He kind of knows he’s not the biggest guy in the world. But he’s got great ball skills. The guy can go up and make plays. We’ve just got to make sure we put him in the right position to make plays.”

On whether he envisions Biggers as his slot cornerback:

“I don’t know. He has been working in there. Josh [Wilson] is working there. D-Hall working there. We’ve got some options that we didn’t have in the past.

On Biggers’ attributes:

“Oh I think he’s a good football player. He understands the game, studies the game. He’s got good quickness. He’s a guy that’s got a good feel for it. He knows when to blitz, how to hide behind linemen. So far, what I’ve seen without the pads on, I’m impressed with him.”

On whether he goes into training camp not thinking about suspended FS Tanard Jackson?

“To be honest with you, until you brought it up, I haven’t thought about it. Obviously if we got Tanard back, that’s another bonus because he’s a heck of a football player. I don’t know where that stands with the NFL, but we’d welcome him back with open arms.”

On whether D-Hall is still an option to play slot cornerback:

“Yeah, we’re just working other guys because he has played there.”

On CB Chase Minnifield, who is recovering from right knee ACL surgery:

“I think once he gets to training camp—you can tell he’s not 100 percent yet—but once he gets there, he’s another one. He has been around football his wh0ole life, obviously, with his father and everything. He’s got great football instincts. You can see that right now if he’s not moving at 100 percent. He’s still got good football instincts.”