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Gray Discusses Lions Interview, Redskins' Cornerbacks


It has already been an eventful offseason for Redskins secondary coach Jerry Gray.

Shortly after the 2008 season ended, Gray interviewed for the head coaching job with the Detroit Lions.

It was a great opportunity for Gray to get his name out there as a head coaching candidate, even though the Lions decided to hire Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz instead.

Gray discussed the interview process--as well as the state of the Redskins' secondary--with Larry Michael during a recent broadcast of "Redskins Nation" on Comcast SportsNet.

"What I did was, I asked [Lions officials] for feedback," Gray said. "How can I get better [at the interview process]. What can I do to make myself more presentable? I'm always trying to get better.

"To get a head coaching job in this league, the big thing you have to do is be part of a winning team. That means a whole lot. [Teams] want to bring winning guys into a program. Winning is what can get players to understand what you can do."

Gray certainly brings strong credentials. Before joining the Redskins in 2006, he was the defensive coordinator for a Buffalo Bills unit that finished second in the NFL two years in a row.

Gray was also a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback with the Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1985-93.

For now, Gray is happy to return to a Redskins team that produced the NFL's fourth-ranked defense last season.

Coverage was a strong suit for the Redskins. They allowed 193.4 passing yards per game, seventh best in the league.

Consider this: in a Week 3 game, the Redskins limited the high-powered Arizona Cardinals, the NFC Super Bowl representative, to just 197 passing yards in a 24-17 win.

On "Redskins Nation," Gray also discussed the talent level in the secondary and indicated he hopes to have the entire unit back in 2009.

The group included Shawn Springs, Fred Smoot, Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall.

Hall spent the first half of the regular season with the Oakland Raiders, but was released on Nov. 6. He signed with the Redskins and worked his way into the lineup.

Hall played in eight games with the Redskins and started the last four games. He posted 25 tackles (20 solo), two interceptions and seven passes defended.

"I thought DeAngelo did a great job for us," Gray said. "Being around here, he only makes the team better. He earned the respect of players on the field and in the meeting room. You look at the surrounding things that happened with him and you didn't see any of that here."

Hall is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Springs struggled through a calf injury last year and sat out seven games. He finished with 36 tackles (32 solo), one interception and one sack.

With Springs sidelined, Smoot ended up starting nine games. He posted 57 tackles (48 solo) and one interception.

Rogers returned from a devastating knee ligament injury in 2007 and was playing at a Pro Bowl level early in the season. He logged 53 tackles (45 solo) and two interceptions.

Said Gray of his 2008 cornerbacks: "Those four guys are really good players. They are all starters in this league. You want to have all four back. Being selfish, I want them. Being realistic, can you? That decision will come along.

Regarding Rogers, Gray said: "The good thing about Carlos is that he came back from the ACL [injury], he played well. He had some opportunities early in the season, and then late in the season I thought he [faded] just a little bit. But I think he'll get back stronger. He's a good player."

Young cornerback J.T. Tryon continues to work himself into the mix, Gray said.

Tryon, the Redskins' fourth-round draft pick last year, served as a nickel and dime cornerback as a rookie. He also saw action on special teams, recording seven tackles.

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