Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on Tuesday discussed the situation surrounding safety Su'a Cravens, who was placed on the Exempt/Left Squad list over the weekend.
Over the next month, the Washington Redskins will give safety Su'a Cravens time to determine his future in football. Cravens, 22, was placed on the Exempt/Left Squad list over the weekend after it was reported that he is contemplating stepping away from the game while he takes care of personal matters.
"Number one, and he is taking care of some personal issues and he has a lot to decide for a young man," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "If he wants to continue playing pro football, how he wants to go about it, number one, number two, things that he has to deal with. I think he has got four weeks really to try to get his life in order on and off the field and figure out where his priorities are and what he wants to do.
"You know, some people, football is not for them, but I know he has a strong passion for the game and wants to play, but there are some other things in his life that he needs to keep private – that we will keep private – that he has to take care of."
Cravens had recently been sidelined with a knee injury suffered in Washington's preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens last month. But over the weekend, Cravens approached Gruden in his office and informed him that he had some personnel issues that he needed to tend to and wasn't sure if wanted to continue playing football.
"From what I understand of his situation, I understand where he is coming from," Gruden said. "You know, there are some issues there that he has to take care of and only he can take care of him the way he sees fit. But as far as owing things to us, he has given everything he has had since he has been here. We have taken some time to try to get him ready for this first game, but I think sometimes your personal life is more important and in this case for him it is."
Gruden said that veteran safety DeAngelo Hall has been among the players that have reached out to Cravens over the last 48 hours.
"He's done a great job of trying to communicate with him and help him," Gruden said. "The rest of the guys have too. He's made a lot of friends here since he's been here a year and a half or two years, however long it's been. He knows that we're all here for him if he needs us, but I think he just needs some time for himself to figure out what he wants to do."
From a football standpoint, Cravens entered his second season in Washington pegged as the team's starting strong safety. In 11 games during his rookie season, the 2016 second-round pick recorded 24 tackles along with five passes defensed, one sack and one interception.
Cravens sealed the deal for a Redskins victory in Week 3 over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., picking off Eli Manning in the final seconds of the game.
"I think he wants to play," Gruden said. "I've seen him at USC. I've watched him at practice. I've watched him play in games and I know that he loves the game of football, so I don't think that is the issue. I just think that there are some things really weighing on his mind that he has to take care of. So if he gets those things cleared up, then sure, we will take another look at him. He is one of our guys."
At least for the next month, the Redskins will look to Deshazor Everett as the starting strong safety.
Everett started the final three preseason games in place of Cravens, recording nine tackles and a pass defensed.
Gruden is confident in Everett's abilities to take over the strong safety role, pointing to the 25-year-olds steady progression over the years.
"He is one of those guys – like I said before – moved from corner and that takes some time, but I think the more reps he gets with the first group, I think the more detailed oriented he is going to be in the film room and studying," Gruden said. "He is a very passionate guy about the game. I think he will do a good job. It's just a matter of lining up correctly, getting the calls, communicating with D.J. [Swearinger] and making plays. I know the one thing he can do, he can tackle. He is not afraid. He has got good ball skills. So, that's a good combination for a safety."