Bacarri Rambo surprised by role

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins used a different game plan to combat the Detroit Lions’ passing attack. That meant rookie free safety Bacarri Rambo, the starter since training camp began, didn’t play a snap.

He says he understands. It’s also clear coach Mike Shanahan wants him to take more advantage of his chances when he does return.

There was a rational explanation for Rambo not playing: the Redskins wanted to focus on coverage and therefore used three corners in their base package. When they needed a second safety, then corners Josh Wilson or E.J. Biggers would play deep alongside Brandon Meriweather.

“I was very surprised,” Rambo said of the game plan. “But it was based on the personnel and type of offense they ran. I just did my job and played special teams.”

On Monday, Shanahan said, “When he gets his opportunities he has to take advantage of it. We’re not here to keep his spirits up. When he does play special teams, whatever role you’re in, you better play 100 percent and make some plays. If he doesn’t play anything on defense, he better play well on special teams. And if you don’t play well on special teams and you’re not a starter, you won’t be dressing. Everyone has a role and it changes during the season.”

Rambo was known as a ballhawk while at the University of Georgia. That hasn’t been his game, whether in the preseason or the two games he did start. But the coaches also point out that teams haven’t beat him deep. Rambo is rarely caught out of position. His main trouble involved tackling in the open field, something that has plagued others on defense.

Rambo said it was difficult to sit and watch, relegated to just special teams. But, he said, it will eventually help him. In the meantime, like Shanahan he wants to see himself make more plays.

“I’m just waiting on the opportunity right now,” Rambo said. “I really haven’t had many chances to show my ball skills and what I can do. I’m trying to help the team as much as I can even if it’s causing a turnover on special teams.”