- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Taking a look at some of the Redskins roster battles as they reach the final cuts. Here's a look at their secondary:
How many: The Redskins could keep 11 if they want, though that number could be reduced when end Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson return from their four-game suspensions. They could also give that extra spot to the offense. For now, let’s go with 11 -- six corners, five safeties. Does the area with the least depth deserve the most players? Especially for a head coach who stresses keeping the best 53? If that's the case then, no, they won't get 11. Still, keeping that many would allow them to cover up issues with versatility, rotating safeties as they did in the second half of last season depending on the situation. And probably one of them likely would get cut when Jackson and Jenkins return.
Locks: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo, Reed Doughty, Brandon Meriweather (if healthy), Josh Wilson, E.J. Biggers. I’m a little shaky on this only because there are injury issues that coaches clearly need to see have been resolved, with Meriweather and Wilson. If healthy, they’re key parts to the secondary. Though Biggers hasn’t always jumped out in the preseason, and I'm not sold on him covering in the slot (does blitz well from here), he does have a history with secondary coach Raheem Morris and they like the fact that he’s a little taller and long-armed and versatile. So do I.
Looking good: Chase Minnifield. I have a real hard time seeing him get cut. He’s proven to be a smart, feisty corner and aggressive. He plays with an attitude. Minnifield has some things to learn and needs to show he can cover consistently when not jamming the receiver. But he plays the run well and after missing last season thanks to two knee surgeries, Minnifield has proven he can still play.
On the bubble: DeJon Gomes, Jose Gumbs, Jerome Murphy, Jordan Pugh. Before Richard Crawford’s injury, I had Gomes out. It would not surprise me if that still happens, especially if Meriweather looks fine tonight, lessening the need for another in-the-box safety (with Doughty on that list as well). Gomes is unreliable when playing deep and I’m not sure that he’s progressed enough to keep a roster spot, despite his special-teams play. Murphy and Gumbs both have jumped up with their training camp and preseason performances. The coaches like how physical Murphy plays at corner, almost with a linebacker’s mentality. More important, he’s a terrific special-teams player and that’s where he’d mostly play. Gumbs is a big-time hitter learning how to play free safety -- he’s more comfortable in the box. Pugh rarely jumps out, but the Redskins worked him hard this summer at becoming better when needing to play up. I somehow think Murphy earns a roster spot with Gumbs as a dark horse, perhaps as a fifth safety. What helps Washington a little bit is the versatility it has at corner, allowing the Redskins to mix up coverages even more and perhaps take one fewer safety if necessary. Their talent clearly is at corner.