When veteran players report to Redskins Park in exactly one month, the Redskins are slated to have 15 defensive backs battling for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Devoting one-sixth of the preseason roster to the secondary reflects a desire to improve the pass defense in 2012. Collectively, the group brings 51 years of NFL experience, including five Pro Bowl selections and a wealth of big game experience.
But the key to the group's success starts on the sidelines, where the Redskins added one of the top coaches available this offseason in Raheem Morris.
Morris comes to the Redskins from Tampa Bay, where he worked with general manager Bruce Allen and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. During his time there, he earned a reputation as a player's coach with a high-octane demeanor.
The Redskins have already witnessed the Morris Effect, as players on both sides of the ball played with energy and enthusiasm during OTA's.
"Raheem is a lot of fun," head coach Mike Shanahan said after mini-camp. "He’s an excellent football coach and he brings a lot energy. The players buy into it, and it’s good camaraderie."
Not only did players practice with swagger, but the coaches got involved in the smack talk as well.
"I told him yesterday to get away from me because he was yelling at Kyle [Shanahan], so I couldn’t pay attention at practice," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said with a chuckle. "He enjoys football. We’ve got a guy with enthusiasm, and you’ve got to enjoy that."
For Morris, it's calculated exuberance, designed to inspire competition throughout the entire team.
"We enjoy ourselves," he said with a knowing smile. "To create that competitive environment, it’s like going out and playing a pick-up basketball game. You get a chance to talk a little trash to each other and go out there and really have fun, while you get your job done.
"I’m fortunate enough to be in an environment with Coach Shanahan that he allows me to be myself, and he allows himself to be fun as well."
Despite spending the last three seasons as the head coach in Tampa Bay, Morris rejects the notion that transitioning to position coaching will be difficult.
"No, that’s for guys with egos--coaching is coaching," he said. "There are 32 people that do what I do in the world. That’s it. There are 32 men that are the very best at their job, period."
The important part of his transition will be adopting the 3-4 system after years in the Tampa 2. Morris worked closely with Haslett and former defensive backs coach Bob Slowik throughout the offseason to adjust to the new system.
Headed into training camp, Morris is comfortable with the defense and excited for what the secondary offers.
"Our job is to be the very best--that’s our goal at all times," he said. "Our means of doing that is to force our will on our opponent. It doesn’t really matter about the scheme. It’s more about the culture that you provide in your room, the attitude that those guys have to go and play with."