- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ryan Clark knows what it’s like to be a young safety in the NFL.

So as he and the Washington Redskins prepare for their season-opener against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Clark said he will happily pull some strings to help make likely starter Bacarri Rambo more comfortable on the field.

“If they want Bacarri to do something that he’s not comfortable with, and he wants to do something else, I’m going to let him,” Clark said Wednesday. “I’ll do the other thing, and then we’ll go to the sideline and I’ll tell coach [Jim Haslett], ‘Oh man, I messed it up. I told Bacarri to do that.’ But if it works out for the team, if it’s what makes us better as a whole, that’s what I’ll do.”

With Brandon Meriweather suspended for the first two games of the regular season after an illegal hit in Baltimore, the Redskins likely will turn to Rambo, a second-year safety who played 11 games in 2013. Newcomer Duke Ihenacho, who was claimed off waivers Sunday after being released by the Denver Broncos, also could see playing time at strong safety depending on how quickly he picks up Washington’s defensive playbook.

“Right now it looks like it will be Rambo, but we still have another day or two of practice and we will see how it goes,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We will make that decision probably Friday or Saturday, depending on where [Ihenacho] is mentally.”

Rambo struggled as a rookie and was inconsistent in the preseason. He said he has worked to take better angles when tackling, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has praised the safety’s improvement in that regard. 

“I’m a whole different guy than I was last year. It’s night and day,” Rambo said. “I’m not as worried or frustrated or stressed. I’m thinking about the stuff more, I’m more confident in myself this year.”

Rambo split time between free and strong safety at Georgia, starting 23 games at free and 13 at strong. He has been listed as a free safety with the Redskins but practiced as the starting strong safety this week.

While Gruden said the decision on Sunday’s starter has yet to be made, Rambo is preparing as if he will be the guy.

“I’m running with the ones right now,” he said when asked if he will start, “so I guess that’s a yes.”

Rambo has leaned on Clark since the 34-year-old arrived in Washington and will continue to do so Sunday. For his part, Clark said he and Rambo will move around throughout the game, trading sides of the field and responsibilities to help put the second-year player at ease.

“We’re going to mix it up,” Clark said. “We’re going to do some things that he’s comfortable with. Because I know especially being a young player, you want to be comfortable. That’s when you play fastest, that’s when you play most physical or more physical.”

In injury news, Gruden said cornerback Tracy Porter was not at Redskins Park on Wednesday because he was getting his hamstring examined by a doctor. Akeem Jordan (sprained knee) also did not practice, while Jordan Reed (sprained thumb) was a full participant. 

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