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Roster Review: Cornerbacks

gary-banner2.jpg breaks down the Redskins' roster position-by-position and identifies potential need areas. Up next: cornerbacks.

The Redskins' defense has a blend of youth and experience--and the cornerback position is no different.

The issue at cornerback is injuries. Carlos Rogers suffered a knee ligament injury in Week 8, putting his availability for the start of the 2008 season at risk.

Rogers is expected to be ready to play by mid-September or October, team officials said.

Last season, Rogers had rebounded from a mediocre 2006 season and posted 24 tackles and one interception that he returned 61 yards for a touchdown against Detroit.

Fred Smoot, signed by the Redskins in March 2007, took over for Rogers in the starting lineup.

Smoot started 11-of-13 games for the Redskins last season, finishing with 55 tackles and one interception.

Overcoming a nagging hamstring injury early in the season, Smoot returned to form and emerged as a solid cover corner down the stretch.

Across from Smoot at season's end was Shawn Springs, who overcame a myriad of injuries in 2006 to produce another strong season.

Springs played in all 16 games and recorded 70 tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. All four of his interceptions came during the Redskins' four-game winning streak to close out the season.

Some have credited Springs' second-quarter interception and 53-yard return in Week 14 vs. Chicago as turning the Redskins' season around.

Leigh Torrence earned a roster spot coming out of preseason and stepped up in nickel and dime packages.

Coaches have long been impressed with Torrence's speed, but the 5-11, 179-pounder needed to develop coverage skills to compete with bigger, stronger receivers.

He was solid in his role, logging 32 tackles and one sack of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in Week 16.

Torrence moved ahead of 8-year veteran David Macklin on the depth chart.

Macklin had signed with the Redskins last offseason to provide depth and experience. But he saw little action, even when other cornerbacks were slowed by injuries. He played in six games, recording just five tackles.

Midseason, John Eubanks joined the Redskins' roster from the practice squad.

Eubanks was active on game days because he played special teams. In his first action of the season, in Week 9 against the New York Jets, Eubanks recorded two special teams tackles.

He worked his way into three and four cornerback packages and logged three tackles in six games.

His season came to an end in Week 15 when he suffered a toe injury. It healed a couple weeks later, and the Redskins re-signed him to the practice squad.

Byron Westbrook completed his rookie season on the practice squad. He mimicked his brother Brian on the scout team in preparation for games against the Philadelphia Eagles. The 5-10, 194-pounder is a Washington, D.C., native.

The Redskins signed first-year corner Cedrick Holt in January to round out the off-season roster. Holt, 5-11 and 171 pounds, spent 2007 training camp with the Indianapolis Colts, but he was released prior to preseason.

#### Positional Analysis

With Rogers possibly sidelined until late September, the Redskins are expected to turn to Springs and Smoot at cornerback to start the season. They remain a solid duo.

The Redskins could address the position in free agency and the draft, though.

Springs will be 33 years old next season, so team officials could look to find and groom his eventual replacement.

Torrence has shown promise. He remains a key part of nickel and dime coverage packages, but he could earn an opportunity to step up into a more prominent role.

Macklin is an unrestricted free agent and his return to the Redskins is uncertain.

Eubanks, Westbrook and Holt are young cornerbacks who must impress in preseason to earn a roster spot.

## Three Cornerbacks Eligible For Free Agency
As of March 2, 2008; names listed are in no particular order

  • Randall Gay, New England Patriots: In the first few days of free agency, several teams were closing in on Gay, a part-time starter with five career interceptions.
  • Ty Law, Kansas City Chiefs: At age 33, Law's career may be winding down. But he has started 16 games each of the last three years and has 52 career interceptions.
  • Travis Fisher, Detroit Lions: Fisher has been a free agent consideration by the Redskins in years past. He has nine interceptions in six NFL seasons.

Three Cornerbacks Available In the Draft

As of March 2, 2008; names listed are in no particular order

  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State: The cousin of Chargers' CB Antonio Cromartie, Dominique worked out with Redskins great Darrell Green in summer 2007 to fine-tune his skills. He is 6-1 and 184 pounds and has 11 collegiate interceptions.
  • Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech: He's 5-9 and 189 pounds, Flowers was a two-year starter for the Hokies, with 10 career interceptions and 31 pass break-ups in his career.
  • Leodis McKelvin, Troy: The next great defender to emerge from a college that also produced Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware? He logged four career interceptions at Troy, but teams rarely threw in his direction. The 5-10, 190-pounder is also a dynamic return specialist.
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