- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2018

ASHBURN — Redskins cornerback Fabian Moreau spent his rookie season buried in the depth chart, taking just 59 defensive snaps in 2017.

A third-round pick out of UCLA, Moreau’s impact on game days came primarily on special teams.

But behind the scenes, the 24-year-old was still learning the position. Not only did Moreau have to get used to the NFL, the Redskins approached him about playing inside corner — a spot Moreau never played in college or high school.

“It’s a whole different ball game inside,” Moreau said.

The Redskins, however, want Moreau to be flexible.

With the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller in the offseason, the Redskins don’t have clear-cut starters at the outside and nickel spots on their defense.

Washington signed veteran Orlando Scandrick in April and gave an extension to Quinton Dunbar in January — but there’s room for a player like Moreau to emerge, if he can impress the coaching staff. The two spots will be decided in training camp.

“I expect Fabian to be able to contribute for us,” defensive backs coach Torrian Gray said. “At some point this year, he’s going to have to contribute to us. Again, he’s got a learning curve that’s gotten better. He’s been great in the meeting rooms, taking to stuff out here to the field.”

Moreau has the physical tools to be a solid player. At 6-feet tall, he ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. That speed was useful for the Redskins, who used Moreau as a burner down the field on punts.

In theory, the speed should help Moreau match up with opposing wide receivers, if he can get on the field.

Last December, coach Jay Gruden said Moreau had a special skill set and the upcoming offseason would be a great test of him. He added there was “no question” Moreau had the chance to be a starter in the future.

“He’s got a chance to be a true lockdown corner for us,” Gruden said. “He’s physical. He can run.”

Moreau, meanwhile, is glad to be healthy. Last season, he was recovering from a torn pectoral and didn’t return until midway through training camp. He missed valuable reps, but stayed healthy throughout the season and appeared in all 16 games.

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said Moreau has grown in being able to recognize offensive splits and understanding when he can take chances.

Cornerback is still a relatively new position to Moreau. In 2012, UCLA coaches asked him to switch from running back during his freshman year. To that point, Moreau had never played on the defensive side of the ball.

“His learning curve at corner has grown exponentially,” Gray said.

In practices, Moreau has mainly stuck to the outside, running with the second unit. He will still be a regular contributor on special teams.

Moreau said he’s not concerned about the opportunity of a starting role. Instead, he’s focused on improving.

“It’s Year 2,” he said. “It’s time to step up.”

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