For the past two weeks we reviewed how each position group performed in 2013 and took an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the safeties and wrap up the series on Saturday by taking a look at special teams.
Recap: GM David Caldwell made the secondary a priority in last year’s draft, taking five defensive backs. Two were safeties: Cyprien (second round) and Evans (sixth round). Both played significant roles as rookies, and the staff is particularly excited about Cyprien’s development.
Cyprien is a physical player who blitzes well but struggled in coverage early in the season. He’s solid in run support, and finished second on the team with 98 tackles. He has good instincts, but needs some refinement and experience before he can become the same kind of player that Kam Chancellor is in Seattle, which is what coach Gus Bradley believes Cyprien can become.
Evans was forced into significant action after Lowery went down with a concussion early in Week 3. He wasn’t really ready to play as much as he did, and he really struggled in coverage. Guy’s development allowed defensive coordinator Bob Babich to rotate him with Evans at free safety. Guy was even more physical than Cyprien, and delivered several big hits, including one to Andre Johnson that caused an incompletion.
Prosinski was mainly a special teams player, but started against Buffalo when Cyprien sat out with a thigh injury.
Looking ahead to 2014
Players under contract: Cyprien, Evans, Guy, Prosinski, Sherrod Martin.
The skinny: The secondary is in pretty good shape for 2014. Cyprien needs to improve his coverage skills, which would make defending the middle of the field less of a problem. Evans and Guy will battle for the starting spot at free safety, but it’s likely the two will rotate as they did in 2013.
The signing of Martin, a second-round draft pick by Carolina in 2009 who has seven career interceptions, puts some pressure on Prosinski. He led the team in special teams tackles, but is a liability in coverage on defense.