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Redskins’ Defensive Players Reluctantly Adjust to New NFL Rules

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(Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Brian McNally Brian McNally
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RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC) — The NFL has made it crystal clear to defensive backs this summer: Illegal contact after five yards will not be tolerated.

Referee Terry McAulay was in Richmond this week with a few of his crew members to make sure that message got through to the Redskins. It isn’t one the defensive players or coaches really wanted to hear even as the referees hammered home that message during several practices this week, the first with game officials during this year’s training camp.

“They just call a lot of stuff on the defense. But other than that – nothing much [changes],” safety Ryan Clark said. “We try to practice the same way. We try to practice hard. The only thing that changes is the flags. You’ll go to the film and you’ll see the laundry on the field and maybe talk about what you could have done differently or even if you think it was a penalty. But other than that, they don’t do much but aggravate us.”

Still – there’s no question defensive backs have to adjust. So will linebackers, who have to take on the new breed of pass-catching tight ends.

According to Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, that puts a premium on guys who can run at those positions. That’s a strength for inside backers Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley. It will have to be. There’s only so many ways coaches can help players when the league is intent on calling the game this way.

“We’re not gonna over do it [with adjustments]. You’ve got technique,” Haslett said. “You handle your technique and that will handle the problem….You can’t do it, then we’ve got an issue. But the technique will handle the problem.”

Second-year cornerback David Amerson noted that his team can’t really change the physical style of play they coaches have emphasized all training camp. You live with the penalties. He did remember an incident in Thursday’s practice when rookie corner Bashaud Breeland was slapped to the ground by wide receiver Andre Roberts with no call made. Such is life in the modern NFL.

“My biggest thing – just make sure it goes both ways,” Amerson said. “You gonna call it one way, you’ve gotta call it the other way. I guess it has to do with entertainment, you know, people want to see a shootout, a high-scoring game. But it puts defensive backs at a disadvantage.”

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