The plan dictated that Redskins rookie safety Bacarri Rambo would see limited playing time on Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Doing everything they could to shore up a porous run defense, Washington was leaving its defensive backs in a vulnerable position, especially with star receiver Calvin Johnson on the field for the Lions.
So the Redskins went primarily with three cornerbacks and veteran safety Brandon Meriweather and Rambo was caught up in the numbers crunch. He didn’t play a regular defensive snap and was relegated to 19 specials teams plays. Rambo understood the reasoning, but for a sixth-round pick out of Georgia expected to play a prominent role this season, the decision still stung.
“It was very difficult, but I just let the coaches coach and I just go out there and play,” Rambo said.
But this wasn’t simply about the alignment for one game against Detroit. You could argue the Redskins went to three corners because of what Rambo hasn’t shown he can do yet. Washington coach Mike Shanahan did not mince words during his Monday press conference.
“When [Rambo] gets his opportunities, he’s got to take advantage of it. We’re not here to keep his spirits up,” Shanahan said. “When he does play special teams or whatever role you’re in, you better play it 100 percent and make some plays. If he doesn’t play anything on defense, he better play well on special teams and if you don’t play well on special teams and you’re not a starter on defense, then you won’t be dressing.”
That doesn’t sound like a player whose coach thought he handled the reduced playing time well. But Rambo said all the right things when he spoke with reporters on Wednesday.
“I feel caught up. It’s just still growing on me still,” Rambo said of adjusting to life in the NFL. “I’m just trying to improve every game. The speed of the game – like everybody said, the SEC is the most NFL-like conference. No, it’s not. Because it’s a whole lot different. I just get out there and continue to adapt and continue to grow.”