The metamorphosis of talented Washington Redskins rookie Su'a Cravens reached a new stage last week.
While grooming the player labeled a linebacker despite the potential to be more, Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry sought balance. He hasn't wanted to overwhelm the second-round pick by putting him in difficult situations before he's ready. But Barry also hasn't wanted Cravens's talents to go to waste on the bench.
So, Barry has found unique situations to play the hybrid linebacker/safety, putting him in position to make plays with his exceptional athleticism and instincts. Sometimes, Cravens will play only a quarter of the defensive snaps. Other games, he'll see his snap count to increase to a 30-percent workload.
For the most part, Cravens contributed during the first half of the season by playing as a pass-coverage linebacker. But the plan contrived by Barry and his fellow coaches and team officials has always called for more.
Last Sunday's win over the Minnesota Vikings revealed the next phase.
Cravens played a season-high 55 percent of Washington's defensive snaps, lining up in various positions, and had one of his better games of the season.
Cravens saw time at his usual spot as the backup inside linebacker, providing run support and covering running backs and tight ends. Coaches used him on blitzes up the middle as they started doing two games ago. Cravens covered the slot receiver on a couple plays. And, for the first time, Barry also used Cravens as an edge rusher.
"Su'a is a playmaker," Barry said. "If we can be creative with putting him in different positions .?.?. I think he's getting into a nice flow, nice rhythm."
The rookie certainly stood out, as he recorded five tackles cheap jerseys and a couple quarterback hurries while also seeing significant playing time in the final two minutes of the wholesale NFL jerseys game.
"Excellent player, I'll tell you," Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy said of Cravens. "I mean, they obviously they have a lot of confidence in him. You can just see the way they are using him. Things that you pay attention to, if you look at the key plays in games and particularly the Detroit game was the one that jumps out at me. He's the pressure player in key moments of the game so I think it tells you what the defensive staff thinks of him and just the confidence they have in him, so I've been very, very impressed with him on video."
Barry indicated last wholesale jerseys week that Cravens's duties Los Angeles Rams jerseys would begin to expand. Coaches began experimenting with different roles for Cravens in the third week of regular season practices. But the Week 4 concussion not only sidelined the rookie for two weeks but cheap NFL jerseys also stunted his growth, Barry said.