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Monday, April 25, 2011
Breaking down the safeties: Washington

By Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the safeties of each NFC East team. Today: Washington Redskins

With the signing of Oshiomogho Atogwe, the Redskins are now loaded at safety and have an excellent complement to LaRon Landry. Landry really came into his own in 2010 until an Achilles tendon injury ended his season in Week 9.

Safety is the best position that Washington has and is a true area of strength -- assuming Landry returns to pre-injury form, which might be a bit optimistic considering that he also had shoulder surgery this offseason.

Atogwe is best in a deep center field role where he can key the quarterback and make plays on the ball in the air. He is a very average run-support player, but Atogwe has proved throughout his career that he has an excellent knack for getting his hands on the football. He was also used more as a blitzer last season, a role that he seemed to relish. He could really help what was a very poor 2010 pass defense. The addition of Atogwe, whom defensive coordinator Jim Haslett knows well from their time together in St. Louis, should allow Landry to freelance even more.

Landry has become the quintessential strong safety who thrives near the line of scrimmage. He is one of the biggest safeties in the league, but his coverage skills could use work. He has improved in that capacity, and the Redskins made better use of his unique skill set with Haslett in control of the defense. Landry can blitz and play the run as well as just about any safety in the league. The opposing offense now needs to account for him pre-snap. Landry can be very disruptive.

Kareem Moore was the starting free safety to open the season but didn’t do a lot to get excited about. He missed a lot of tackles and was too much of a liability in coverage, but Moore could be a solid backup to Atogwe.

Reed Doughty also has starting experience and could be a valuable player if Landry doesn’t recover as planned. Chris Horton also could factor in, but durability has become a major problem for this young strong safety. Washington doesn’t want Doughty or Horton covering the Jason Wittens of the world.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.