- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 26, 2009

By Ryan O’Halloran | The Washington Times

Today: Defensive backs | Tomorrow: Receivers

The seventh of a nine-part series previewing the Washington Redskins heading into Thursday’s opening of training camp.

Who’s back: Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot and Justin Tryon (plus Byron Westbrook from the practice squad); safeties LaRon Landry, Chris Horton, Reed Doughty and Kareem Moore.

Who’s new: Cornerback Kevin Barnes, a third-round pick from Maryland, and long shots Doug Dutch, Lendy Holmes and Michael Grant.

2008 review: The Redskins’ defense ranked seventh in passing (193.4 yards a game), but the secondary intercepted only nine passes. Horton was the steal of the draft, winning a starting job and finishing with 76 tackles. Hall arrived at midseason and seized the starting job from Rogers, but the duo will both start this year.

Offseason review: Hall’s re-signing on the eve of free agency allowed the Redskins to release the oft-injured Shawn Springs. Barnes was drafted to ultimately challenge Smoot for the No. 3 cornerback slot. Doughty is back from neck surgery, and Landry showed up for the final OTA session.

Three issues

1. Who wins the strong safety job? Horton is the incumbent, and Doughty started the 2008 opener. But as Doughty said this summer, Horton is the starter. Regardless, there is room in the game plan for both players, especially if Greg Blache continues to use a three-safety package that started late last year.

2. Any chance Barnes can overtake Smoot for the third cornerback spot? Probably not right away. Smoot has knowledge of the defense and experience in his favor. But if Barnes has a solid training camp and earns Blache’s trust, he will definitely be ahead of Tryon and be worked into the rotation.

3. Can this group reach double digit interceptions? Yes, because defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will create more pressure on the quarterback, and having Hall for a full season gives the Redskins a playmaker. Hall has averaged five interceptions a year since becoming a starter.

Key statistic

37 Completions of 20 or more yards allowed by the Redskins last year, tied for third fewest in the NFL.

Want more Redskins? Follow Ryan O’Halloran on Twitter at @ryanohalloran and read our Redskins 360 blog at www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/redskins.

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