Strong showing for rookies in secondary
ASHBURN -- Perhaps this will be how the secondary looks in the future. Bacarri Rambo snatching tipped passes in the middle of the field; Phillip Thomas breaking up short passes across the middle; David Amerson jamming receivers, making it tough for them to release downfield.
It's what the Redskins saw this weekend. It's what they hope to see for seasons to come. Whether or not that happens, this past weekend was the first step in that journey. The three-day minicamp ended Sunday and now the rookies can't return until the start of organized team activities on May 20 -- if their class has graduated.
In addition to seven draft picks and 12 undrafted free agents, the Redskins hosted 48 tryout players, including running back Alfred Morris' brother Shawn, former Redskins coach Terry Robiskie's son Andrew and Seattle safety Earl Thomas' brother Seth.
Two draft picks could not work out: tight end Jordan Reed (bone bruise/quad) and running back Chris Thompson (knee). Reed should be ready for OTA work later this month, while coach Mike Shanahan said he anticipates Thompson being fine for training camp in late July.
But what the Redskins need is help in the secondary. And that's where the three rookie defensive backs enter.
"I feel I can make an impact immediately," Thomas said. "I know it will be very hard. ... It'll be hard for me to come in and try and be a starter and get on the field early because [other] people have been doing it for a long time. It depends on my learning curve."
That learning curve started Friday. Amerson likely will be a third corner at best this season behind starters DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris tweaked his backpedal, mostly how he turns and runs out of it, and among other areas.
"I didn't even realize I was doing that until he showed me," Amerson said.
The Redskins worked Thomas mostly at strong safety, though he could end up playing more free safety, and they used Rambo mostly at free safety. Rambo's interception was the result of being in the right place at the right time.
"It builds my confidence," he said. "I followed the scheme and did what the coach asked me to do. It allows you to make plays and play full speed. I had a feel for the game and just played ball."
Thomas was drafted in the fourth round, two rounds ahead of Rambo. But Shanahan obviously likes both players. He pointed to a personality test he gives all prospective draft choices, with the highest possible score being a 10. It's supposed to measure mental quickness, dedication and commitment.
"One had a 10 and one had a nine," Shanahan said. "That's as good as you see. That's what you're hoping for. Now it's open competition and it doesn't matter where you were drafted, in the first round or a free agent.
"The good part about them is they have the size and athletic ability to play both positions. ... That's why you drafted them and you hope it plays out that way."
But what they really want to find is more good players for a maligned secondary.
"You're looking for depth so if you do lose some players you can still win," Shanahan said, "we have that now much more than we've had it in the past."