- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2015

When the Washington Redskins signed strong safety Jeron Johnson to a two-year, $4 million contract, it was rather unclear how he would factor into Joe Barry’s defensive scheme.

After four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks as a backup to Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, he had a chance to earn a starting role in Washington or at least significant playing time. However, Duke Ihenacho, who was claimed off waivers early last season but spent the entire year injured, beat Johnson for the starting job.

Ihenacho fractured a wrist in the season opener and was placed on injured reserve. It was Trenton Robinson, not Johnson, who took over. Entering Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, Johnson had played just 6.1 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

That changed in Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Patriots. Two minutes into the second quarter, Johnson replaced Robinson, playing 49 of the team’s 80 defensive snaps. Robinson, who had played 91.9 percent of the snaps after Ihenacho was injured, played the first four offensive series and finished Sunday’s game with 32 snaps. He re-entered the game when free safety Dashon Goldson tweaked a hamstring late in the fourth quarter.

“It was a coaches’ decision,” coach Jay Gruden said after the game. “We had to try him back there. We thought Jeron has done some good things in practice and decided to give him a shot.”

The Redskins were trailing the Patriots, 14-0, when Johnson entered the game. The game was hardly over at that point, so the fact that Gruden was comfortable enough to use Johnson from that moment on shows they are willing to give him a legitimate chance.

Whether or not Johnson did enough to challenge Robinson for more playing time moving forward remains to seen. Robinson has struggled at times this year, sometimes not playing far enough back when he is the single-high safety. It happened against the Philadelphia Eagles, when wide receiver Riley Cooper got behind him for a 62-yard touchdown. It also occurred in the second game of the season against the St. Louis Rams, when wide receiver Kenny Britt slipped past Robinson for a 40-yard score.

Here are a few more observations from Sunday’s snap counts.

** The Redskins turned to inside linebacker Will Compton at times when Perry Riley was struggling. Compton filled in well when Riley was injured earlier this year, but since Riley returned, it was mostly him and Keenan Robinson in the middle. Against New England, Compton played 52 snaps — three more than Riley. Quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots picked on Riley often. In the fourth quarter, Brady called a timeout to readjust the play after he spotted a mismatch. On the ensuing play, running back Brandon Bolden burned Riley in coverage and Brady connected for an 18-yard score — the first receiving touchdown of Bolden’s career.

** It was somewhat surprising that two of the Redskins‘ three injured cornerbacks were active. Chris Culliver, who returned after missing three games with a left knee injury, played 51 snaps, still looked hobbled by his injury. Breeland, who tweaked his right hamstring against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7 and was questionable on Sunday, played 32 snaps. He said he felt “pretty good” and that he was being eased back into action to avoid any setbacks. Both have worked hard to return and play through their injuries in order to preserve the depth in the ailing secondary. For the second consecutive game, cornerback Will Blackmon spared the secondary and played every defensive snap — the only Redskins player to do so against New England.

** DeSean Jackson played 49 of 58 snaps in his first game since tearing his left hamstring in the season opener. However, he did not have the impact the Redskins were anticipating. Jackson was targeted six times and had three catches for nine yards. That said, it was difficult for the Redskins to get anything going on offense on Sunday.

“I think he’s missed a lot of time,” Gruden said. “No. 1, just getting lined up in the huddle and then transferring the play calls to the field, to the execution. It wasn’t quite there for us, and we didn’t have a lot of opportunities either, really. They had a good plan for him, and we just didn’t make any plays. He caught a couple balls late, but we just made nothing really happen on offense, unfortunately, to give him some opportunities.”

Here are the full snap counts from Sunday, with the total number played in parentheses.

Offense: LT Trent Williams (58/58), LG Spencer Long (58/58), RG Brandon Scherff (58/58), RT Morgan Moses (58/58), QB Kirk Cousins (58/58), C Josh LeRibeus (57/58), WR Jamison Crowder (55/58), WR Pierre Garcon (51/58), WR DeSean Jackson (49/58), TE Jordan Reed (43/58), RB Matt Jones (24/58), RB Chris Thompson (22/58), TE Derek Carrier (17/58), RB Alfred Morris (10/58), WR Andre Roberts (9/58), WR Ryan Grant (7/58), FB Darrel Young (2/58), T Tom Compton (1/58), LG Arie Kouandjio (1/58).

Defense: CB Will Blackmon (80/80), OLB Ryan Kerrigan (73/80), FS Dashon Goldson (72/80), ILB Keenan Robinson (66/80), OLB Trent Murphy (62/80), ILB Will Compton (52/80), CB Chris Culliver (51/80), SS Jeron Johnson (49/80), DE Jason Hatcher (49/80), ILB Perry Riley (49/80), FS Kyshoen Jarrett (49/80), DE Chris Baker (47/80), DE Kedric Golston (33/80), FS Trenton Robinson (32/80), CB Bashaud Breeland (32/80), DE Ricky Jean Francois (28/80), OLB Preston Smith (27/80), DE Stephen Paea (23/80), ILB Mason Foster (5/80), CB Deshazor Everett (1/80).

Special teams: Young (15/22), Foster (15/22), Everett (15/22), W. Compton (13/22), T. Robinson (13/22), Johnson (13/22), Smith (13/22), Houston Bates (11/22), Golston (10/22), Carrier (9/22), Grant (8/22), Blackmon (8/22), Murphy (7/22), Goldson (7/22), T. Compton (6/22), Jean Francois (6/22), Quinton Dunbar (6/22), Tress Way (6/22), Nick Sundberg (6/22), Ty Nsekhe (5/22), Dustin Hopkins (5/22), Hatcher (5/22), K, Robinson (5/22), Kerrigan (5/22), Roberts (5/22), Thompson (5/22), Riley (3/22), Jarrett (3/22), Moses (2/22), Scherff (2/22), Long (2/22), LeRibeus (2/22), Crowder (2/22), Kouandjio (2/22), Morris (1/22), Jones (1/22).

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