The Redskins thought they solved the position a year ago, pairing O.J. Atogwe with LaRon Landry. But neither was healthy in training camp. Both struggled with injuries throughout the season and Landry ended a second consecutive season on injured reserve.

So when it comes to the safety situation this season, there’s one question worth asking: Can it be much worse? Even with three safeties who were castoffs from other teams? The answer is easy: it depends.

If the three newcomers – Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson and Madieu Williams – all stay healthy then perhaps they could help. But more on that in a minute.

First, there isn’t much of a battle to win the starting strong safety job as Meriweather has worked with the first unit all spring and again in training camp. He’s playing ahead of Reed Doughty, who is best used as a backup.

But Meriweather hasn’t exactly impressed his coaches over the past year or two. New England cut him last summer despite consecutive Pro Bowls and a need for safety help. Chicago signed him, but opted not to bring him back after the season. Multiple NFL sources question his instincts and discipline. But few question his talent.

But the real battle is at free safety between Jackson and Williams. Second-year DeJon Gomes also is back, but he is still relatively new to this spot and needs to prove himself in coverage, not to mention take better angles to the ball.

That leaves Jackson and Williams. Jackson is on the physically unable to perform list because of a strained calf and had a shoulder injury last year with Tampa Bay. He’s considered the more talented player, but Williams’ availability thus far rates an edge.

In spring workouts Williams showed good instincts for the ball, breaking up numerous plays and picking off a few passes. But he was a backup in San Francisco last season and was considered ineffective in his last season with Minnesota two years ago. It’s a patchwork group.

Overall this position is not considered a strong one. But there is one way they can improve over last season. The corners and safeties rarely worked together in training camp last summer, so they didn’t develop a strong understanding of how one another operated.

This group, though, has worked with the corners from the spring.

“You have to understand when you get in this type of motion, how the safety is going to play this route,” corner Josh Wilson said, “when he sees a cross, how he’ll play that cross. When you get an out and up, where is he going to be on an out and up? Just understanding and knowing how he’ll play it helps.”

That’s what the Redskins have to hope. It’s their best chance for improvement.

John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examier. You can follow him on Twitter@CBSSportsNFLWAS or@John_Keim.