Bacarri Rambo's learning curve at SS

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
8:15
AM ET
ASHBURN, Va. – He’s talked quite often this summer about his maturation as a player. Bacarri Rambo feels better about his game, feeling more comfortable about what he’s doing, how he’s tackling, what he’s seeing.

Of course, that’s when it pertains to free safety. Rambo now is in line to start at strong safety for the suspended Brandon Meriweather. The Washington Redskins signed strong safety Duke Ihenacho after the final cuts last weekend, but there’s not guarantee he’ll be ready to start by Sunday’s game at Houston. So that leaves Rambo, who feels more confident at the position.

Why Rambo feels better. Rambo played some strong safety last season, though he primarily worked at free. He’s much more ready to play the position now than last season and probably even more than he was a couple weeks ago.

Part of it is having Ryan Clark with him on the field and in the meeting room. He’s constantly talking to Rambo.

“Small things about where to line up, what might be coming, staying at a certain leverage over a receiver or running back,” Rambo said. “I’m growing every day. I’m learning every day. I’m reading my keys better, keeping my eyes on my man and just doing all the small things that will
allow me to play faster and be in the right position to make plays.”

Where he’s improved. It’s a different ballgame playing strong safety as opposed to free, which is Rambo’s more natural position. At free safety, you’re not responsible as much for run fits – filling a certain gap – whereas at strong safety it’s a key part of the job.

“You have to know what gaps to fill, you have to have good body control and read your keys,” Rambo said. “That’s the main thing, reading your keys. At free you read your keys, but you’re more a cover guy. You come up and cap off but it’s not like you have any gaps to fill. At strong you have to read your keys very well.”

Watching Meriweather. One area that Meriweather excelled in the preseason is blitzing from the slot. Not every safety, or corner, does this well. Some tip it off with alignment or with their eyes. But Meriweather had success at timing up blitzes from this area.

“He does it very well. There are small things he might not tell us about, but we watch him and it will help us,” Rambo said. “We talk about it a lot in the meeting rooms and when watching film. He has great body control and reads his keys well. It’s just holding your disguise and just wait for the ball to be snapped. It’s [about] watching film and knowing when they might snap the ball.”

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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