ASHBURN, Va. -- With all the daily commotion about the Washington Redskins' quarterback situation, an issue of primary importance is getting only secondary mention.
And the secondary is that primary concern. It appears the defensive backfield seems slightly improved, although it is unclear whether that is because of or in spite of an attempt at a major overhaul.
After ranking 30th in pass defense last year, Washington didn't retain free safety Madieu Williams or nickel back Cedric Griffin, signed free-agent cornerback E.J. Biggers and used three of its top six draft picks on defensive backs. Then on the eve of training camp, the Redskins waived the rehabbing Jordan Bernstine and signed fellow safety Jose Gumbs.
For all of those moves, unless safety Brandon Meriweather can somehow stay healthy after playing only half of one game since Week 2 of the 2012 preseason, Washington will open the season with the same cornerbacks from last year -- DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, and veteran safety Reed Doughty. The only change will be sixth-rounder Bacarri Rambo for Williams.
Second-rounder David Amerson and Biggers will be the top backup corners, especially since Richard Crawford, No. 4 for most of last year, suffered a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 24 against Buffalo.
The secondary's third rookie, safety Phillip Thomas, went down for the year with a lisfranc fracture in the preseason opener at Tennessee. Holdover safeties DeJon Gomes and Jordan Pugh and cornerback Chase Minnifield, who spent his rookie year of 2012 on injured reserve, are trying to hold off Gumbs and special-teamer Jerome Murphy for the last couple of spots.
Through three games this preseason, opposing quarterbacks have thrown for just 472 yards on 84 attempts with a passer rating of only 76.1.
However, only Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger provided a true test for a decent part of a game. Wilson and Amerson were nailed for 81 yards combined on a couple of interference calls against Buffalo.
The return of top pass rusher Brian Orakpo after he missed all but a game and half last season will help, but former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris' unit needs to step up if the Redskins are going to move a step or two beyond last year's NFC East title.
--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed to this report.