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Will Blackmon Adjusts To 'More Cerebral' Position Of Safety


Like DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon has moved to safety this offseason and is learning all of the nuances -- from positioning to communication -- of the position on the fly.

Imagine going through four years of college, majoring in English, only to eventually become a professor in geometry.

That's what Will Blackmon feels like right now in his first season as a full-time safety after spending the first nine NFL seasons as a cornerback.

Yes, there are certainly some similarities in the two positions, but there are a lot of nuances to playing safety that never came to mind when he was at cornerback.

Unlike cornerback where it's often just you vs. your man, safety requires knowledge of the entire defense.

"It is because you have to have enough depth and know your situation, range, and know what you have to do," Blackmon said last week during the Redskins' second week of OTAs. "You have to be spot on."

While Blackmon had NFL experience prior to signing with the Redskins, most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 with a brief offseason stint with the Seattle Seahawks, few thought the Boston College product was going to be a long-term contributor.

Signed just days before the Redskins' Week 2 matchup with the then St. Louis Rams, Blackmon would go on to accumulate 57 tackles with two interceptions, two fumbles forced and a sack during the 2015 season. And not only did he become a starter, he'd go toe-to-toe with top receivers in the league.

This offseason, the Redskins re-signed him before making the decision to covert him to safety.

"I flew in Tuesday and played Sunday," Blackmon recalled of his first week in Washington. "So every week I had to learn a new defense. So now I know the whole thing. [Safety is] more cerebral. If you take out tackling it's less physically demanding in terms of running around where at corner I'm just in the heat of the battle and competing the whole time."

Check out these photos of Will Blackmon from the 2015 season.

Blackmon's mindset has also been forced to adapt to a move deeper in the defense. No longer is he asked to make plays at the line or in a 1-on-1 situation. It was frustrating at first for him during practices this offseason not being the first player in the ball.

"I think for me it was more so really just having to slow down," Blackmon said. "My gift and my curse is that I can see everything that's going on but I think I saw too much. I saw trees, I saw the water boy and I saw tents. Even at nickel I could see everything, but I knew what I was supposed to do. Here I have to see everything, I have to communicate to the defensive backs, I have to communicate to the safety and I have to make sure I'm on my landmark. There's a lot of mental stuff that I think process-wise I'm getting much better [at], so I'm actually happy where I am."

Blackmon's role has also extended off the field.

He's one of the veteran leaders who has helped organize breakfast clubs, which go over issues while watching film and really, just building relationships at a different level.

"Everyone's meeting and pushing each other in the weight room and if you're loafing or slacking you're going to get called out by your own teammates and I think that's the biggest thing," Blackmon said. "I've been very fortunate to be on a lot of winning teams and even one to win a Super Bowl, and that's the main thing. Once the players take ownership and challenge each other and not waiting for a coach to get them fired up or waiting for coach [Jay] Gruden to always correct them, but taking ownership is how you make huge strides."




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