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DeJon Gomes Will Start For LaRon Landry At Strong Safety For Final Three Games

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – With three games remaining in the season and the Washington Redskins battling season-long struggles in their defensive backfield, the coaching staff has decided to turn to rookie DeJon Gomes as its starter at strong safety, replacing LaRon Landry, according to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

Gomes

Haslett was asked if Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe, who each have struggled to stay healthy this season, will have an opportunity to ever be the play-making tandem at secondary that they were expected to be before the season began.

The defensive coordinator then answered by saying that Gomes, a rookie selected out of Nebraska in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft, will get a full-time, first-string role the rest of the season.

“Right now we’re going to go with D.J. the rest of the way, so that’s something we’ve decided to do as a staff,” Haslett said. “We’ll see how that works out. LaRon, to me, just has got to get healthy. When he’s healthy, he’s a good football player. He just hasn’t been healthy in a year and a half.”

Gomes, who declined to speak at length before the Redskins’ practice, said he would be the starter at strong safety, not free safety. When asked how he reacted to the coaches telling him he’d spend the rest of the season as a reserve, Atogwe, the free safety, said he had no reaction.

“I just took it in stride,” Atogwe said. “I mean, it’s [head coach Mike Shanahan’s] decision. I’m not going to argue with him. Whatever he calls, that’s what we’ll roll with.”

Gomes and Reed Doughty started for the Redskins in their 34-27 loss to New England on Saturday, with Gomes and Doughty alternating responsibilities at each safety position. It was the second start of the season for Gomes, while Doughty made his eighth; Atogwe played approximately a dozen snaps as a reserve.

Atogwe has battled hamstring, knee and toe injuries this season and played in 10 of the Redskins’ 13 games, starting eight. Landry has been limited by a lingering injury to his left Achilles’ tendon, which cost him nearly the entire second half of last season, as well as hamstring and, most recently, groin injuries.

Atogwe signed a five-year, $26 million contract before the season, while Landry, in the final season of his four-year rookie contract, is an unrestricted free agent when the season ends.

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