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RICHMOND — When Su’a Cravens was drafted a year ago in the second round out of USC, defensive coordinator Joe Barry and coaches saw him as a linebacker, despite Cravens playing safety in college. Cravens wasn’t a big fan of the move, but did what he was asked and played linebacker his rookie season. This offseason, Cravens made the switch full time to safety.
“It doesn’t feel like I left safety,” he said. “It feels like I’ve played sort of a version of the position throughout my college career and a little bit last year.”
Make no mistake about it, he’s happy to be back at the safety position.
“I just feel like it aids my skill set,” he said. “It allows me to play in the open field. It allows me to make decisions on balls in the air, and it ultimately allows me to be a playmaker, and I like that.”
Cravens noted that playing linebacker last season helped him in his return to safety by helping him be more aware of how every position on the field interacts with one another.
“It just helped me learn everybody’s responsibility, knowing run fits, and knowing where everybody was going to be — whether it be a run or pass — helps a lot. At safety, I’m behind everybody, so they’re trusting me to be in the position I need to be in. It allows me to play faster, knowing exactly what they’re going to do, where the D-line’s going to fit, so it helps me sharpen up my angles,” he said.
It was no secret that last year’s Redskins defense struggled in a number of categories, finishing 28th in yards allowed at nearly 380 yards a game, leading to the dismissal of Joe Barry and other coaches this offseason. That means Cravens now has to learn somewhat of a new defense under Greg Manusky.
“They’re both great defenses,” he said. “But I think with a guy like Manusky, we’re going to be a bit more aggressive. Third and short distances we’re going to send a little more pressure, whereas for Joe B., we’d sit in a Cover 2 or Cover 3.”
Getting off the field on third down last year was a struggle for this team. The defense was last in the league in 3rd down percentage, and Cravens says that’s been a point of emphasis and coaches are aware that it has to be fixed.
“I think that’s why we’re getting a bit more aggressive on defense,” he said. “We’re not going to sit back and let the offense take their shot and hope(fully) we’re in the perfect defense.” We’re going to come after the quarterback, we’re going to get aggressive with receivers on the edges, and hopefully our talent is better than their talent.”
Fans will love to hear that.