- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ASHBURN — Trenton Robinson knows the Atlanta Falcons will pay special attention to one particular play on the film from the game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the third quarter of the Washington Redskins‘ 23-20 win on Sunday, Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford connected with Riley Cooper on a 62-yard touchdown pass.

The Eagles had a favorable matchup against cornerback Chris Culliver, who was hobbled by injuries to his left knee, groin and quadriceps. The play broke down when Robinson, playing as the deep safety in cover-3, failed to get back far enough. By the time Robinson tried catching up on his misstep, Cooper already had five yards of separation and a clear path to the end zone.

Robinson was not pleased with himself on the play, but was glad that an opportunity for a learning moment came in a game in which the Redskins won. On Sunday, when the Redskins take on the Falcons and their high-powered passing attack with a less-than-healthy secondary, Robinson knows there is no room for such mistakes.

“You’ve got to be deep as the deepest safety, you’ve got to be in the middle of the field,” Robinson said. “We weren’t in the middle of the field like we were supposed to be, and there were a couple plays we left our corners out to dry. I know that other team’s have seen this, so we’re definitely going to take care of that on film.



“It was a ball that I should have been in the middle protecting the corner and protecting where I’m supposed to be. That’s a play that should be a dead play or an interception, period.”

Every game this season, the Redskins (2-2) have had to manage a shorthanded secondary because of a variety of injuries and suspensions.

Last Sunday, the Redskins‘ defensive backfield was missing veteran corner DeAngelo Hall, who was out with a grade-two sprain in his right big toe. Last Tuesday, corner Justin Rogers was placed on injured reserve because of plantar fasciitis.

That left the Redskins to face the Eagles with the following: Culliver, who was not playing at 100 percent; Bashaud Breeland, in his second year; Will Blackmon, who signed with the team in Week 2; rookie Quinton Dunbar, who converted to the position from wide receiver in training camp; and Deshazor Everett, who was signed from the practice squad the day before the game.

Culliver toughed out his injuries and played all 56 snaps against the Eagles, much to the Redskins‘ surprise. The team relied on Culliver and Breeland outside, while rookie free safety Kyshoen Jarrett played all 56 snaps as the nickel cornerback.

The challenge will certainly get tougher this week against the undefeated Falcons whose offense, under the guidance of former Redskins coordinator Kyle Shanahan, ranks fourth with 403.2 yards per game.

Quarterback Matt Ryan’s 1,202 yards rank second in the league, and wide receiver Julio Jones has a league-high 38 receptions, with his 478 receiving yards tied for first with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown. The Falcons also have solid options in Roddy White and former Redskins receiver Leonard Hankerson.

“It’s a challenge every week,” coach Jay Gruden said on Wednesday. “I’m telling you, every team has good receivers, but obviously, Atlanta has a special one in Julio, and obviously Roddy still can play. [Leonard] Hankerson is doing some good things. They’re a very impressive group, but Julio is a different human being and it’ll be a great challenge for us. He’s a guy that can take over a game by himself.”

The Redskins could be pressed again for depth on Sunday. Culliver was not at Wednesday’s practice and was getting an MRI examination on his injuries. Gruden said Culliver was uncomfortable after playing on Sunday and did not feel like he could play to his capabilities. Hall, who began his career with the Falcons, did not practice on Wednesday, but did some conditioning drills to test out his toe. His availability for Sunday is unlikely.

“Whether Culliver plays or not, you know, Breeland is going to have to step up,” Gruden said. “Will is going to have to step up. Whoever it is, our safety is going to have to be aware of where he is. We’re going to have to get great pass rush. It’s going to take a team effort. It’s not going to be one guy that takes Julio away.”

The good news for the Redskins is that their pass rush showed improvement in Sunday’s win. They sacked Bradford five times after just having four in the first three games combined. If they can sustain that type of pressure, they should be able to disrupt the Falcons‘ passing game.

Either the way, the Falcons will make an effort to get the ball to Jones, who ranks second among wide receivers with 52 targets. Even when he is double-covered, he is able to get open.

“I think Kyle has done a great job of moving him around to different spots and making it a little bit more difficult for defenses to key on where he’s going to be,” Ryan said. “I think that’s one of the reasons he has continued to be successful.

“He’s a great player and he’s so consistent week-to-week. He’s so unselfish too. Whether or not you can stop him, we always feel like he’s going to make plays for us.”

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