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Need to Know: Five Redskins defensive players with work to do during OTAs

May 26, 2015, 6:27 AM EDT

Riley-vs-Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 26, the day the Redskins start OTAs.

Nickel coverage

OTAs get underway today at Redskins Park. A few days ago we looked at some offensive players who will be under the microscope at Redskins Park over the next few weeks. Here are five defensive players who will have a lot at stake during this phase of the offseason.

—NT Terrance Knighton—He’s here on a one-year contract so he has to prove himself quickly. The organization is looking for players with solid work ethics and Knight needs to demonstrate that from the very start.

—DL Chris Baker—When the team signs three free agents at your position it has to get your attention. His pass rush wasn’t that bad last year even though he recorded just one sack; if he was just a bit quicker he could have had maybe half a dozen more. He’ll need to compete against Stephen Paea and Knighton in front of him on the depth chart and stave off Ricky Jean Francois behind him.

—CB David Amerson—A year ago he was lining up with the first team and was perhaps a rising star. After a season marred by missed assignments and a one-game suspension after missing a practice his role is unclear. He needs to get off to a good start to make a good impression on his two new coaches, defensive coordinator Joe Barry and secondary coach Perry Fewell.

—ILB Perry Riley—Although he has been the unquestioned starter since midway through the 2011 season, Riley has to be looking over his shoulder. Will Compton played well in a couple of games when Riley was injured last year and the organization is very high on fifth-round draft pick Martrell Spaight. If Riley falters, one of them could step in.

—S Phillip Thomas—After a year on the injured list and one split between the practice squad and the 53-man roster, Thomas is approaching make or break status. There is probably only one job for him and Duke Ihenacho as Jeron Johnson’s backup at strong safety and the team’s 2013 fourth-round pick will be in a battle.

Timeline

—It’s been 149 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 110 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 21; Redskins training camp starts 65; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 121

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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  1. abanig - May 26, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    Trent Murphy is also someone who has to step up. The Redksins drafting Preston Smith puts pressure on Murphy to be a more consistent pass rusher, on top of being a great run defender.

    • obxskins - May 26, 2015 at 8:38 AM

      Agree

  2. obxskins - May 26, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    Good list Rich..two names I would have put on there would have been safety Goldston, (sp?) and Trent Murphy….I know when limiting the list a any certain number there can always be one or two added,,,good list though Rich!

  3. Stephfan - May 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    I agree with Trent because if Preston shows promise I think he will get the job sooner rather than later! I’ll also say breeland as I’ve said before I’m not sold on his one up and down season with only one good game. And I’ll also add gholdston, he needs to show those saftey skills from San Fran and not Tampa.

    • ET - May 26, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      I think you’re right about Breeland. He’s clearly good, but by no means complete. We’ve certainly seen regression in young DBs before. Even if they don’t totally light it up on the field, I’m hopeful that Hall and Goldson provide good mentorship for Breeland and the other young fellers in the secondary.

      Coach Barry has been talking Amerson up this week. Does it mean anything, or is it just confidence-building for a guy who stunk it up last year?

  4. timwillhidetimwillhide - May 26, 2015 at 9:44 AM

    I think as long as the play calling is decent our Oline could be pretty good. I’m more concerned with the Oline because if they dont hold up than our offense will be stagnant again which will tire out our Defense.

  5. berniebernard666 - May 26, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    Five appears to be your favorite number Rich cause you always like to write about top 5, and I get it. BUT….this year is different from any other year I have ever seen on the Skins. I have never ever seen as much competition as there will be this season for almost every spot.

    There are very very few positions which somebody is going to hear “oh you can’t win the starting job there because that other guy has it locked up”. When a team wins 7 games in 2 years, ya know what? There really can’t be any LOCKS to start ..Especially at the QB POSITION. I understand we have some really good players at positions who appear locked in, I am just saying that opening it up for competition will make them better AND I am willing to bet that at least one guaranteed starter is going to end up with a surprise before this is all over.

    • Stephfan - May 26, 2015 at 10:16 AM

      Clearly your missing the fact that this is denfense? Also Judy because he says there is locks on the team doesn’t mean there won’t be competition everyone knows this is rg3 job to lose or Riley, etc. it’s just a guess everyone does it. The best player will play one thing we do know is it won’t be McCoy or cousins week 1 😂😂😂

      • berniebernard666 - May 26, 2015 at 10:32 AM

        CLEARLY we don’t understand who JUDY is.

        • Stephfan - May 26, 2015 at 12:02 PM

          Clearly a typo smh

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 26, 2015 at 5:05 PM

          SHIRLEY you jest!?!?

  6. timwillhidetimwillhide - May 26, 2015 at 10:59 AM

    I think we are starting the transition back to the 4-3. That is why we signed NT Terrance Knighton to a 1 year deal and why we signed DT Stephen Paea. If you look at the linebackers we have signed and the one we Drafted they are on the smaller size in weight. They may be on the roster with special teams in mind they will also be there for depth and possibly start till we Draft/Sign someone better. I think right now you are seeing the foundation for the switch being laid

    • 214hof - May 26, 2015 at 11:57 AM

      I don’t see a switch to a completely 4-3 front, but I do see a 3-4 disguised as a 4-3 with Murphy/Preston/Kerrigan lined up with their hand in the dirt.

      This is the most versatile set of athletes Washington has had in the front 7 in years…
      Baker has the ability to play NT/DE in 3-4 fronts, Paea and Hatcher can play DE in 3-4 fronts & DT in 4-3 fronts. Preston, Murphy, Jeffcoat and Kerrigan can play OLB/DE ( 3-4/4-3). The possibilities are endless if JB is creative enough. Hopefully it works out, my fingers are crossed.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - May 26, 2015 at 2:39 PM

        I said we were STARTING to transition. This year will be a hybrid 3-4,4-3 Defense playing mostly nickel. Next yearor the year after will be when we make the Complete switch.

    • abanig - May 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM

      McCloughan ran a 3-4 D the last time he was a Gm. Joe Barry just came from a 3-4 in SD.

      I doubt we’re switching back to the 4-3.

    • ET - May 26, 2015 at 12:18 PM

      Really doubt the defense is moving back to 4-3. Gruden and Barry have indicated they want a hybrid 3-4, and it looks like they’ve been gathering the personnel to do exactly that. If it works out the way they want it to, the Skins front seven will be disruptive … and a lot of fun to watch.

      • bangkokben - May 26, 2015 at 2:17 PM

        Agreed. Base defenses are ran 20-30% a game. The rest of the time the team is in some form of nickel or dime where you can be extremely versatile.

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