ASHBURN, Va. -- The players keep rotating in and out as suspensions and injuries -- sometimes both to one player -- force changes. It’s also forced the Washington Redskins' secondary to quickly adapt.
What the coaches like, however, is the one constant: safety Dashon Goldson. He might not be the same player who made two Pro Bowls, but for the Redskins he’s been a welcomed addition. And, with all the instability in the secondary, he’s been a stable voice.
“Dashon is 'the dude that drives the bus for us,' “ Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “He's the leader, and to have him back there not only as a player, but just leadership. I think I bragged on him last week on how smart he is, how he calls plays out before they're happening just because of certain formations or certain splits. So when you have a guy like that with his ability and veteran presence, it's awesome."
And needed. The Redskins' corners have been in flux all summer, with Chris Culliver now sidelined for a one-game suspension. Bashaud Breeland missed three weeks in camp with a knee injury, then was suspended for the opener. Corner DeAngelo Hall missed time this summer with various injuries and sat out two preseason games. Nickel corner Justin Rogers is now hurt. Safety Duke Ihenacho was lost for the season with a wrist injury in the opener.
Goldson is the lone starting secondary member to be available all of camp and for each game. Barry compared his leadership to previous players he’s coached or been around: Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Eric Weddle.
“Dashon is in that mold. He is an absolute professional in the way that he works and the way that he handles himself in the meeting room,” Barry said. “You can see that he’s always taking notes. He’s always talking ball out on the field. He’s always discussing things. If something does happen in practice when the first group goes out, he’s not over there just sitting on a cooler. He’s grabbing the guys, talking, ‘Hey, what happened? What was the breakdown?’ ... It’s vital when you have a guy like that and rely on a guy like that.”
Former safety Ryan Clark filled a similar role last season, but he was at the end of his career. Goldson, if he plays well, could play several more seasons. But what they need from him now, in addition to good play, is a steady voice. Someone who can get players lined up right. So he’ll ask questions in meetings -- even though he already knows the answers.
“Some people are scared to ask questions,” he said.
But he wants players to hear the response and understand what’s being asked and why they’re playing a certain coverage.
“It’s the little things, like his mental process before every play, the things he does. I watch what he does at practice and I feel prepared, too,” said Redskins safety Trenton Robinson, who will make his second career start Sunday.
Goldson welcomes the role.
“It’s cool. I always have this motto I live by, ‘I get fresher under pressure,’ “ Goldson said. “ We have a lot of new faces coming in and out. We haven’t played with the full group yet so it’s important everyone be on the same page and when we’re on the same page we’ve got confidence.”