It was a big enough blow to the Washington Redskins when the NFL suspended safety Tanard Jackson for violating the substance abuse policy. And it didn't help that they face Drew Brees and a potent New Orleans Saints offense in Week 1.
But Wednesday's news could be even worse, as safety Brandon Meriweather will miss the next two to four weeks with a left knee injury, coach Mike Shanahan said. Meriweather sprained the medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament in that knee.
"You're obviously disappointed when you lose two safeties or two guys you thought that you could start. Obviously disappointed with Tanard Jackson and Brandon, but that's why you have depth," Shanahan said. "You never know when those things happen. When they do, obviously you adjust."
On Monday Meriweather landed awkwardly on that knee, the same one he hurt during the Redskins' preseason game at the Chicago Bears.
"He was fine until that time. He was practicing a hundred percent," Shanahan said. "It was just kind of a freak accident."
The Saints led the league in passing and total offense last year. And while Meriweather's speciality isn't coverage, his absence could hurt run support and open up the field for Brees.
Second-year player DeJon Gomes is a candidate to fill in for Meriweather at strong safety. Shanahan endorsed Gomes' improvement from a season ago.
"I made a lot of strides. I don't know if it's just coverage or it's understanding the defense greater," Gomes said. "Any time you're around a good bunch of DBs, you always want to elevate your game."
Even given the Saints' turbulent offseason thanks to their bounty scandal, the Redskins' secondary will have to elevate its game against an offense that put up over 34 points a game last year.
As for how they'll make up for Meriweather's absence Sunday, Shanahan wasn't revealing his plan.
"Well, obviously we've got four safeties left and we've got five corners, so we'll come up with the best combination to try to slow down the Saints," he said.
Third most valuable NFL franchise
Forbes released its annual list of NFL franchise values Wednesday, which featured good and bad news for the Redskins.
The bad news is that they lost to the Dallas Cowboys, who are the most valuable at $2.1 billion. The good news is that the Redskins are ranked No. 3 in the league at $1.6 billion.
It helps that the Redskins own FedEx Field and can receive the revenue generated from home games. Their value is up 3 percent from a year ago, when it was $1.55 billion.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger both practiced fully Wednesday, Shanahan said, and should be ready to go against the Saints. ... The only guy who was limited at practice was nose tackle Chris Baker (ankle).
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