Redskins look to improve production at safety

On an improved defense last season, the Washington Redskins’

safety play was still a weak link.

Strong side starter LaRon Landry never truly recovered from the

Achilles injury that ended his 2010 season prematurely, and

newcomer Oshiomogho Atogwe was often ailing and wasn’t the

playmaker he had been during his best years with the St. Louis

Rams.

Exit Landry and Atogwe. Enter free agents Brandon Meriweather,

Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson.

The 28-year-old Meriweather was a Pro Bowl player in New England

in 2009 and 2010. He was let go by the Patriots last summer and not

re-signed by Chicago this winter because of his often undisciplined

style.

Now he is trying to teach his new teammates to keep their

feelings in check.

When Brandon Banks couldn’t hold a pass along the sideline early

during Tuesday’s practice and kicked the ball into the crowd in

frustration, Meriweather scolded him, saying, ”Control your

emotions. That’s 15 yards.”

The 30-year-old Williams, a seven-year regular with Cincinnati

and Minnesota, was a backup last year in San Francisco and might no

longer be considered starter material by many teams.

The 27-year-old Jackson was suspended twice for a total of 20

games for multiple failed drug tests while with Tampa Bay, which

cut him in April.

”We always joke with each other that we got a secondary full of

misfits,” said cornerback DeAngelo Hall. ”We got guys that I feel

like nobody else wanted in this league. We might look bad on paper

and guys might rank us bad. But at the end of the day, you got to

go out and play, and we definitely feel like we’re ready to

go.”

Last year’s safeties – Landry, Atogwe, longtime backup Reed

Doughty and rookie DeJon Gomes – combined for just three

interceptions (all by Atogwe).

”We held our own, but there could have been a higher level of

play, for sure,” said Doughty, who started a career-high 11 games

in 2011 and is the only one of the current safeties who was in

Washington before last year. ”We need to make more plays on the

back end.”

That’s what the Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32) expect from

Meriweather, Jackson and Williams, who combined for 10

interceptions in 2009, the last season in which all three were

full-time starters.

”We’ve got a bunch of playmakers back there,” Hall said.

”T-Jack is a physical guy. I’m looking at him like, `You’re

smaller than me,’ but somehow he sticks his head in there. He’s

always there to make a play. Brandon is probably the most complete

of all of `em. He’s a guy that’ll fill a hole (against the

run).”

Hall said he had talked to former Redskins cornerback Carlos

Rogers, now with the 49ers, about Williams.

”`Los loved him to death,” Hall said, ”and I feel the same

way about the guy.”

Williams has been working with the starters because Jackson

missed time in the spring recovering from knee and shoulder

injuries and started training camp on the physically unable to

perform list. He’ll return to action Thursday.

”It’s a setback, but we’ve got a lot of opportunities to get

out there and still compete,” Jackson said. ”We’ve all got chips

on our shoulders, so the Redskins are going to get the best out of

all of us.”

Notes: Practice was halted about two thirds of the way through

because of thunder and lightning. It finished in the team’s new

bubble, the first such transfer in Redskins history. … There was

no update on right tackle Jammal Brown, who was supposed to see his

personal doctor late Tuesday about his chronically ailing left hip

that has him on the physically-unable-to-perform list. … Fullback

Darrel Young and receiver Josh Morgan didn’t practice because of

strained hamstrings sustained on Monday. Redskins coach Mike

Shanahan expects Young to miss a week or two, and Morgan to be out

a couple of days.

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and

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