ASHBURN, Va. -- He stood out during the first week of the spring practice sessions and again in the last. Washington Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar, now that he’s had a full offseason at his still-new position, looks a bit different. He’s still a long-armed, fast player.
But he’s also, in the spring at least, exhibiting more awareness. Will it continue? We’ll find out in August and beyond. For now, though, it allows the Redskins to think that they have excellent depth at corner. They already have starters Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland and rookie Kendall Fuller. They have veteran Greg Toler, too. If Dunbar continues to develop – and multiple people in the organization keep bringing him up – then it gives Washington options. Don’t forget: They also have Will Blackmon, who is moving to safety but could clearly play corner in a pinch.
Anyway, Dunbar looked good during the organized team activities session Wednesday for a variety of reasons. He says it’s for a simple reason.
“Just knowing the scheme and knowing what everyone else is doing, that’s a big help for your game so you don’t have to overstress yourself,” Dunbar said.
In practice, Dunbar played stack formations well. On one play inside the red zone, he and Fuller communicated before the snap about how they were going to play against that look. At the snap, Dunbar jumped a route and forced the play elsewhere. Fuller took his man, too, and they celebrated with a hard slap after the play.
Another time, they executed in a Cover 3 look in which Dunbar had to trust that Fuller (whom he referred to as “my boy”) would cover a particular route as he took the receiver downfield. Both handled their jobs. Again, the ball went elsewhere. Earlier, Dunbar jammed tight end Vernon Davis in a one-on-one situation; the ball went to the other side. Dunbar nearly intercepted a Colt McCoy pass thanks to good coverage (and good reaction) against Rashad Ross, running a crosser on a bootleg.
It’s not as if Dunbar was perfect – he collided with Fuller as the receivers crossed immediately off the line of scrimmage. Dunbar reacted well on one quick route at the goal line, but undrafted free agent Valdez Showers hung on to the ball as Dunbar arrived; he needed to get there a half-second earlier (or, in a real game, drill him and jar the ball free).
But the point is that Dunbar is learning and the next step is to look good in August and when the games begin. However, before workouts began in April, the coaches had no idea which direction he’d go after switching to corner from receiver last summer. This doesn’t now mean he’s a future Pro Bowl cornerback; it does mean he should be better than last year.
It helps facing the same offense; you get used to their routes and know the combinations (just like that side of the ball knows the coverage). So when facing other teams, more will be revealed. Still, for Dunbar, a lot of it comes back to simply knowing more of what he’s doing. That, combined with his skill, is why the organization likes what they’ve seen to date.
“Awareness is falling back on knowing the scheme and knowing where your help is at,” Dunbar said. “And knowing where things are going to be. I can play with more awareness when I know I’ve got help right here so I can overplay this. I’m definitely more comfortable than last year. I really know the scheme now. I’ve got a lot more proving to do.”