No defense allowed more touchdown passes last year than Washington’s. Since then, the Redskins have changed defensive coordinators, signed three potential starting linemen, and added two possible starting safeties.
The biggest upgrade, however, might be at cornerback. Three-time Pro Bowl selection DeAngelo Hall is expected to return from a torn left Achilles tendon that ended his season in Week 3. And Washington lured Chris Culliver, a former South Carolina star, away from San Francisco with a four-year, $32 million contract, half of which is guaranteed.
In his first season as a full-timer, Culliver intercepted four passes – just one fewer than the Redskins’ entire secondary – as the 49ers continued to be one of the NFL’s top defenses. San Francisco held Washington to 213 yards in a Week 12 victory.
During three weeks of organized team activities, coach Jay Gruden has liked what he has seen from the 26-year-old Philadelphian who missed all of 2013 with a torn left ACL.
“He can play press,” Gruden said. “He’s a great bump-and-run corner. He’s a great man corner. He can play off (the receiver). He can play zone. He’s got decent ball skills. I like the fact that he’s a tough, physical corner. So if there’s a running back that gets outside and he has to make the tackle, he’s going to make the tackle. He does a great job of fighting off . blocks and making tackles. We feel very good about him.”
Culliver said he was attracted to the Redskins not just by the money, but by the prospect of helping to rebuild a once-proud franchise.
“The building standpoint, what the organization is trying to do, I want to be a part of that,” Culliver said. “(I’m) just trying to come over here and help.”
It’s no accident that Washington’s quarterbacks haven’t thrown many balls in the direction of the 6-foot, 199-pound Culliver this spring.
“He’s everything you want in a corner,” said Redskins receiver Andre Roberts, who faced Culliver four times in 2011 and 2012 when his Arizona Cardinals battled the 49ers. “He’s athletic. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s tough. He makes plays. He can play the ball really well. I wasn’t surprised that we signed him. You’ve got to have guys like that to get better.”