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Friday, August 23, 2013
Bacarri Rambo must improve his tackling

By John Keim

They like that he doesn’t shy from contact, coming up hard to make tackles. It’s a start. The problem is, Washington Redskins rookie safety Bacarri Rambo hasn’t always made contact once he’s arrived.

And that’s led to long runs by the opposition and lots of worries by the Redskins' coaches.

“The tackling is a concern,” Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “It’s not the will to tackle, it’s the angles that he’s got to come at. When he gets in line, he had a couple of bad angles, but he can correct that because it’s not that he doesn’t want to tackle.”

In a better secondary, Rambo's issues would not be that troublesome because he likely wouldn't be starting. Though he's shown good learning ability and rarely allowed deep balls in training-camp practices or in the first two preseason games, Rambo has not proven that he deserves to be a starting safety. However, the Redskins are ultra-thin at free safety and therefore need him to quickly develop.

Rambo took bad angles on two plays in the preseason-opening win at Tennessee, including an open-field miss on elusive running back Chris Johnson – the first tackle attempt of his NFL career. Then, against Pittsburgh, Rambo took a bad angle on a 23-yard run by back Jonathan Dwyer. Rambo ran at his outside hip, allowing Dwyer an easy cutback lane to the inside.

After the game, Steelers safety Ryan Clark sought out Rambo. The Redskins rookie said Clark told him to “try to close space as much as possible. Don’t run in front of the ball carrier, stay inside him and force him outside and take a good shot.”

The Redskins worked with Rambo for 15 minutes after practice Thursday on his tackling, with an emphasis on attacking ball carriers in the open field – providing looks like the plays in which he missed tackles in the first two games.

Haslett said it’s not just because Rambo is a rookie.

“There’s some guys that are just good tacklers,” Haslett said. “They get them down. They take angles and they do a great job. That’s something he needs to work at. He’s got great ball skills and range and all that other stuff. This is one area that is a concern and he understands that and he’ll get better at it.

“He’s up in the fray of things … he’s got to understand that we don’t care how he gets them down, he’s just got to get them down.”