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New Safeties Picking Up Where They Left Off In College

Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, known for their affinity for interceptions while in college, each had one during a brief workout on the final day of the Redskins’ rookie minicamp.


ASHBURN – Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo were each drafted by the Redskins last weekend in part because of their ability to intercept passes. One workout at Redskins Park on Sunday morning showed why.

Thomas and Rambo each had interceptions during a brief 7-on-7 passing drill that marked the end of the team’s rookie minicamp. Thomas snagged his pass over the middle, while Rambo snatched a pass bobbled by receiver Jason Thompson along the sidelines.

Both players will be jockeying for the ability to start for the Redskins this fall. Thomas, drafted in the fourth round out of Fresno State, and Rambo, taken in the sixth, each rotated between the free and strong safety positions during the workout.

“For me, I ran this defense at Fresno, so it’s really just getting used to the terminology they use because it’s all different,” Thomas said. “I felt comfortable playing wherever they play me: strong, free, wherever. We repped it a little bit this week and I got comfortable as the week went along.”

Head coach Mike Shanahan was pleased to see Thomas and Rambo’s instincts take over despite having just a short time with the playbook. That could bode well for each player; the Redskins currently have an opening at free safety, and Brandon Meriweather, the starting strong safety, likely won’t be able to return from a torn ACL before the start of training camp.

“The good part about them is they’ve got the size and the athletic ability to play both positions,” Shanahan said. “I think everybody knows what type of receiving skills they have and their ability to make plays, but I’ve seen enough out of them on film that I think both of them could do a great job at the strong safety position as well as the free safety position. That’s what you’re looking for when you draft them, and hopefully it plays out that way.

Thomas had eight interceptions last year to lead the Football Bowl Subdivision, while Rambo had three last season and eight in 2011, trailing only N.C. State cornerback David Amerson – the Redskins’ second-round draft pick.

“I know that those guys had a lot of interceptions coming out of college, and I think that’s one of the things that can really change the game – a turnover on defense,” Amerson said. “I think that’s what the coaches want, and I think that’s what everyone brings to the team.”