RICHMOND -- Get past Redskins headliners Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson and Josh Norman and focus shifts to training camp battles existing on both sides of the ball. Breaking Burgundy film analyst Paul Conner is spending the first week at training camp. His analysis of these battles based on live observations and long-standing insight of the Burgundy and Gold.
The position: Strong safety
When we last left: This is another position that ended up getting scrambled because of an injury. Ihenacho was penciled in as the starter but only made it a few plays into 2015 before he suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Jeron Johnson, who was signed with the intent of winning the strong safety job, didn't do a very good job when asked to fill in. That left rookie Kyshoen Jarrett and DeAngelo Hall to split time at the position for the remainder of the year.
Fast forward to 2016, and Hall is the starting free safety, replacing ex-Redskin Dashon Goldson. Jarrett's career is in jeopardy due to a nerve injury. The Redskins signed Bruton away from the Broncos in the offseason to compete with a now healthy Ihenacho.
The battle: This is another one of those battles that isn't decided but it hasn't looked very even, either. From the way the snaps have been divided, it appears the Redskins want the former Super Bowl Champ to run away with the job. Ihenacho hasn't been taking many, if any, snaps with the first team during walkthroughs like some of the other guys who are battling for a starting spot. It seems he has been used strictly as the second team strong safety.
At 6-foot-2, 225 lbs, Bruton is simply a large man among safeties with 4.4 speed. He's had a few good reps against tight end Jordan Reed in camp so far which isn't easy for many and the coaches seem to believe in him even though he primarily played special teams in Denver. Iheancho, on the other hand, has been counted on two seasons in a row and has only played a handful of snaps before heading to injured reserve both years. He recently said that injuries happen in football and the only way to stay safe is to be on the sidelines. Obviously, that is not a place he wants to be but he may have no choice.
Likely verdict: Unless something drastic happens in the four preseason games, I don't see any way Bruton doesn't come away with the job. He is coming off a team that just won a Super Bowl and that winning pedigree may be infectious. Bruton seems to have a good rapport with the other starting defensive backs and has the energy/confidence of someone who is comfortable vs. someone who is in a heated competition.Comfortable doesn't mean he's taking plays off, but as in calm as in this his job already. Because of the bind it has left the team in the last two years, it may benefit Ihenacho to be the fall back plan instead of the counted on starter.
More camp battles
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr
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