- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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So, a week ago, it looked as though the Washington Redskins' starting safeties for Sunday's season opener in New Orleans might be Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson. While you might not have been overly thrilled with that pairing, you'd had a chance to get used to the idea that it could work.
Well, on Friday, the NFL announced that Jackson was suspended for a year for his latest violation of its drug policy. And on Wednesday, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told reporters that Meriweather had sprained ligaments in his knee in Monday's practice and will miss 2-to-4 weeks.
The technical football term for this is "not good."
Madieu Williams is the likely starter at free safety, and Shanahan said DeJon Gomes could get the start at strong safety in Meriweather's place. (The other options are Reed Doughty and rookie Jordan Bernstine.) But regardless, one of the Redskins' thinnest positions is now much thinner. And their coverages will be affected by the issues with personnel at safety. The Redskins aren't overly strong at cornerback, either, but when they're at full strength they believe they can compensate for that weakness by not isolating their corners on receivers. They give them help, very often from safeties. Now, they have to worry about their safeties.
Like I said, not good.
On the bright side, it's not as though the quarterback they're facing Sunday is coming off a year in which he set NFL records for passing yards, completions, completion percentage and 300-yard passing games.