The Washington Redskins have spent most of this season trying to repair their secondary. They had to patch together a lineup after losing both of their projected starters at safety and had to search for answers after opposing quarterbacks began piling up passing yards at a dizzying pace.
The defense has fared better against the pass during the team's three-game winning streak. Now, with a playoff spot within reach, there are new issues to be addressed in the secondary due to the suspension this week of one cornerback, Cedric Griffin, and an ankle injury suffered by another, DeAngelo Hall.
Members of the secondary say adversity is nothing new for the group.
"We've lost guy after guy," cornerback Josh Wilson said. "It's unfortunate. But like I say, the next guy has to be able to step up without a hitch and make the plays he was making, if not more."
The Redskins enter today's game against the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field one game behind the first-place New York Giants in the NFC East race and a game back of the Seattle Seahawks in the chase for the second of two NFC wildcard spots.
Hall hurt his right ankle early in Monday night's triumph over the Giants. He was on crutches Tuesday and had his right foot in a protective boot Wednesday at Redskins Park.
The NFL announced Tuesday that Griffin had been suspended for the final four games of the regular season without pay after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance. Griffin's positive test was related to the use of Adderall, according to a person familiar with the case.
"It's part of the beast," Hall said. "Whether it's of somebody else's own doing or a freak injury or something like that happens, there's nothing I can do to control it, nothing these coaches can do to control those particular situations."
Hall resumed practicing Thursday, participating on a limited basis. He vows to play today, saying there's no way he will miss the game. But with Griffin out as the third cornerback behind starters Hall and Wilson, the Redskins likely will have to rely on young cornerbacks Richard Crawford and D.J. Johnson when the Ravens use formations with three or four receivers.
"We're excited to get those young guys out there, get them on the field, see what they can do," Hall said. "No stage and no time like the present. They're stepping into some bright lights. Hopefully, they're up for the challenge."
The Redskins are ranked 31st in pass defense, but there has been improvement lately.
Six of the first seven opposing quarterbacks to face the Redskins topped 300 passing yards. The only one who didn't, the Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman, threw for 299 yards.
But only one of the past five quarterbacks to face the Redskins has reached the 300-yard mark. That was Dallas' Tony Romo, who threw for 441 yards during the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day loss to the Redskins. But Romo's numbers were a bit deceptive since 344 of his passing yards came in the second half after the Redskins had built a 28-3 halftime lead en route to a 38-31 win.
Wilson said the improvement has been attributable to "just locking in, making sure we take away the big play. A lot of the passing yards that we gave up were just big chunks. We weren't going and getting gutted. We were just giving up the 80-, 70-yard passes. And that can make you look real bad on the stats."
The mixing and matching comes at cornerback as the Redskins get ready to face Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his two productive wideouts, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Each of those two Baltimore wide receivers has more than 700 receiving yards this season.