Full-time switch con­sid­ered for 2017

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TOMMY CHALK

there. But we would like to see what he can do at safety — see how much he can learn and see where he is from a men­tal stand­point.”

The Red­skins have al­ready taken ad­van­tage of Cravens’ ver­sa­til­ity. A hy­brid safety/line­backer at USC, Cravens has been used this year as a cov­er­age line­backer who can throw quar­ter­backs off guard with an oc­ca­sional blitz.

Cravens was seen last week stand­ing away from his nor­mal lineback­ing group dur­ing prac­tice, watch­ing the Red­skins’ sec­ondary tak­ing part in drills. At the time, Gru­den said it was be­cause he wants Cravens to ac­cu­mu­late as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble from a mul­ti­tude of po­si­tions, es­pe­cially if he can only watch prac­tice as he re­cov­ers.

“We’re try­ing to teach him ev­ery­thing and he feels good about his knowl­edge as far as the dime line­backer is con­cerned,” Cravens said. “He’s try­ing to branch out and learn more about the safety po­si­tion, the nickel po­si­tion, all that and that’s what he’s got to do. That’s why we drafted him, so he’s a ver­sa­tile guy that can play safety, can play nickel, can play in­side backer, what­ever it is. So, yeah, that’s what he is do­ing.”

The Red­skins face a must-win game Sun­day at FedEx Field against the New York Giants, but the de­ci­sion to ex­per­i­ment with Cravens may have as much to do with long-term plans for the sec­on­dround draft pick as it does with Eli Man­ning’s check-downs — es­pe­cially with re­ports the Red­skins are con­sid­er­ing mov­ing Cravens to safety full-time next sea­son.

The rookie joked about that pos­si­bil­ity in a Dec. 22 tweet, call­ing him­self the Red­skins’ new­est 2017 safety.

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins’ safety Donte Whit­ner par­tic­i­pated in just 49 per­cent of the Red­skins’ de­fen­sive snap counts against the Chicago Bears, down from 86 per­cent of the snaps against the Philadel­phia Ea­gles a week prior. The low level of uti­liza­tion sug­gests that there is no sense of com­fort at the safety po­si­tion.

Coach Jay Gru­den said Mon­day that Whit­ner is deal­ing with a quadri­ceps strain and he’s cur­rently listed as day-to­day as the Red­skins en­ter the fi­nal week of their reg­u­lar sea­son.

That poses a prob­lem for the Red­skins sec­ondary, a unit com­ing off a five-in­ter­cep­tion per­for­mance against the Bears. Since the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, six dif­fer­ent play­ers have played at the safety po­si­tions — be­gin­ning with DeAn­gelo Hall and David Bru­ton Jr.

Af­ter Hall tore his ACL and Bru­ton suf­fered a con­cus­sion, the shuf­fle be­gan. Whit­ner was brought in as a free agent, Will Black­mon shifted over to safety from cor­ner, and Duke Ihenacho and De­s­ha­zor Everett have worked their way into the ro­ta­tion.

Should Whit­ner be un­avail­able, Su’a Cravens, who’s mostly played as a line­backer in the Red­skins de­fense, would likely join the safety corps, ac­cord­ing to coach Jay Gru­den.

How­ever, Cravens is cur­rently deal­ing with a brachialis strain, an in­jury to the deep mus­cle lo­cated be­tween his bi­cep and el­bow that has kept him out of the last two games. Gru­den said he’s hop­ing the 21-year-old rookie, who played safety in col­lege, gets a lit­tle bit of prac­tice in this week.

“We have got to get him healthy first — it’s a moot point if he doesn’t get healthy,” Gru­den said. “We’ll just take it day-by-day and see how he’s do­ing and then try to see where he is men­tally. We know he can play dime line­backer, which is good, so we have a spot for him

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