- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2008

Training Camp Countdown

Ryan O’Halloran breaks down a position each day heading into the start of Washington Redskins training camp Sunday. Saturday - defensive backs.

Key statistic

7 Enforced pass interference penalties on the Redskins last year, up from five in 2006.

What happened last year

The death of Sean Taylor robbed the defense of its best athlete, creating a big hole. Cornerback Carlos Rogers is still nursing a knee injury sustained in late October. Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot had solid seasons in coverage, safety LaRon Landry showed he’s a star in the making and Reed Doughty proved capable of playing alongside Landry.

Who’s back

At cornerback, Springs, Rogers, Smoot and Leigh Torrence (14 tackles in the last three games) and Byron Westbrook (practice squad last year). At safety, Landry and Doughty plus veteran Vernon Fox. Westbrook and Fox face the stiffest competition for a roster spot.

Who’s new

Veteran safety Stuart Schweigert, three draft picks - cornerback Justin Tyron and safeties Kareem Moore and Chris Horton - and young players Cedrick Holt and Matterral Richardson, both corners. As a fourth-rounder, Tryon will compete for the fourth or fifth corner spot, and Schweigert will compete with Doughty to start.

Biggest question

How much will Rogers’ absence impact the defense? He isn’t expected to be ready for camp and could end up on the physically unable to perform list, which means he’ll miss the first six weeks. Without Rogers, passing teams Dallas, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Arizona will limit the Redskins’ flexibility in early-season games. With a healthy Rogers joining Springs and Smoot, that gives defensive coordinator Greg Blache many more options when he wants to send pressure.

Comment

It’s going to be interesting to see how Blache uses Landry. Until Rogers is back, one guess is Landry will continue to play a center fielder-type role, a spot where he thrived late in the season because he can cover so much ground. But he also proved to be a good blitzer and physical run-stopper. Springs skipped all the off-season stuff, but everyone knows he’ll be ready.

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