Photo by Reggie Hildred for The Sports Capitol

Injuries vault Stroman from seventh round to starting spot

BY TODD DYBAS | OCT. 24, 2018

ASHBURN — Greg Stroman has heard from everybody. Fellow cornerbacks, the safeties, nickel backs, secondary coaches, defensive coordinators, Jay Gruden. This happens when as a rookie seventh-round pick you’re playing 82 percent of the snaps against the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional rivalry game.

That was the case Sunday for Stroman who made four tackles and was torched for one touchdown. Quinton Dunbar was not active — and his status remains in doubt because of nerve damage in his shin — which meant Stroman, typically just a kick returner or special teams coverage piece, was sent onto the field for almost every defensive snap.

“The guys really helped me along the way,” Stroman said. “Everybody in the group helped me along the way. I’m excited to keep going forward, just learning more.”

He may not have a choice. Dunbar did not practice Wednesday. He is expected to see another doctor who will survey the nerve issue in his shin.

“That’s something that’s going to take a little bit of time,” Gruden said. “He’s going to try to run [Thursday], see [how] his leg feels and see if it can hold up or not. We’ll make a decision hopefully by Friday.”

Gruden noted Dunbar tried to run last week but his leg would “give out” from time to time. That doesn’t sound like a path to the field Sunday in New York.

That puts Stroman, just 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, back in the mix. He is watching film in team mandated sessions as well as on his own time. The advice he’s received from veteran cornerbacks like Josh Norman centers on the tendencies of opposing wide receivers. It’s the same thing he’s hunting when watching film alone during the week. Where does that particular receiver want to go on that particular route? He doesn’t have the experience to answer that question. He’s trying to find it on tape.

“You just got to know what’s going on,” Stroman said. “Know your job and responsibility and just execute. If you just execute your job, everything will be all right.”

Dallas wide receiver Michael Gallup bagged Stroman with a stop-and-go move just before halftime that led to a long touchdown. Stroman was beat in two spots on the play: First by Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott looking to his right before coming back left and second by Gallup’s breakdown about seven yards into the route. The combination was enough for the rookie to bite hard.

“He did OK filling in,” Gruden said. “It wasn’t expected. We expected Dunbar to play and then Dunbar just felt a lot of pain running in pregame warmups, so we decided to go with Stroman there and Stroman filled in. There are some technical things that he can work on with his technique, obviously and his eyes. But for the most part, playing in his first game starting as a Redskin and playing against the Cowboys in a huge game, I think he fared pretty well.”

Stroman experienced all the major layers of being an NFL backup cornerback in the last week. First, always be ready. Second, the offense is going to hunt for you. Third, the quarterbacks at this level aren’t some sophomore at Duke.

“It’s just football,” Stroman said. “I figured it would just be football. It’s a little different. Quarterbacks are a lot better.”

***

Chris Thompson thinks he can play Sunday. Thompson missed the last two games because of knee and rib injuries. He will test how he feels later in the week.

In the interim, he was sending out a warning heard from several corner of the Redskins’ facility Wednesday. The Giants began the day’s NFL news cycle by trading Damon “Snacks” Harrison to Detroit. Tuesday, they traded cornerback Eli Apple to New Orleans. They appear to be dismantling things in New York.

“We really can’t look at their record,” Thompson said. “We look at the guys they have on the offense, you could call out guys on defense as well that are dogs.”

Gruden, your thoughts?

“I’m not in their building, I don’t know why they did what they did but I know that they played a lot of guys in their rotation and obviously they feel good about the things they got in that deal,” Gruden said. “But, we’re going to prepare for the system that they are in and obviously try to attack the people who we think we are going to play against so that’s all we can do. They still have very good defensive personnel over there, guys that can rush the passer with [Olivier] Vernon, guys that can cover; they still have [Janoris] Jenkins and obviously Landon Collins. They have some pretty darn good players over there even without those two they lost so we’re getting prepared for the Giants and expect a very hard fought game like it always is with the Giants.”

Trent Williams in particular wasn’t having any consideration that the 1-6 Giants are there for the taking.

“There’s a lot going on, but that could be used as a distraction for us, not more so them,” Williams said. “You get to a point that you’re going through so much, football is your sanctuary and football is where you go to kind of let off some frustration. I think for us, we can go in there and look at them from the outside perspective and say, ‘They’re going through a lot. They should easily lay down and let us win the game.’ In reality, no matter what they’re going through, playing on Sunday can fix everything. When your building’s on fire and you win, it kind of puts it out for a second.”

***

Another day, another long list on the injury report:

“Did not participate was [Jamison] Crowder, ankle; [Shawn] Lauvao, calf; [Adrian] Peterson, shoulder; [Quinton] Dunbar, shin; [Zach] Brown, illness,” Gruden said. “Limited were [Paul] Richardson, knee/shoulder; [Brandon] Scherff, knee; [Ryan] Kerrigan, chest; [Chris] Thompson, rib/knee; [Morgan] Moses, elbow and Fabian Moreau, ankle. Everybody else was full.”

Lauvao worked on the side by pulling a weighted cart across the AstroTurf field that remains at Redskins Park. The 33-year-old Peterson received the day off to rest. He will continue to receive Wednesdays off.

“I don’t envision him practicing Wednesday the entire year really,” Gruden said. “This is a good chance for him to get in the hot tub and cold tub and all the cool things we bought for our recovery center. He can get a sleep tank for all I care. You know this guy; he got to walk through reps this morning. He worked on the new run; footwork and all that stuff this morning, got some work in the rehab room. He’ll get the meetings this afternoon and tomorrow morning and he’ll get some work tomorrow and Friday. But, this is good for him, he’s put enough Wednesday’s in his career, he can miss one or two… or 16.”

Todd Dybas is the managing editor and co-founder of The Sports Capitol. He has spent 17 years in the sports editorial industry, working as a writer and layout editor, winning multiple awards in both positions. He has been an NFL beat writer, has worked as a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for seven years, and is a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association.

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