Intriguing competition battles for Washington
Training camp is underway and there’s plenty of positional battles to zero in on for this upcoming 2021 season. There’s a battle at the third receiver spot and at right tackle. But the most intriguing battle will be both safety positions: free and strong.
It’s crucial for the Football Team to get the free safety right, especially if they want more success in 2021. Last season, Washington allowed nine plays of 50-plus yards, the league’s second-worst mark. Consistency will be key, according to head coach Ron Rivera.
“Consistency of play will be one of them (things he’s looking for in safety competition) and not just their play, but how the rest of the guys around them play,” said Rivera. “One of the things that's really important that these guys got to be able to do is communicate. They're kind of like air traffic controllers and making checks and calls and making sure that the other DBs hear the calls and the linebackers hear the checks, that type of stuff. It's about communication. So, it will be about the consistency of the play, not just them, but when they're on the field, the guys around them.”
So far, the favorite is veteran Bobby McCain to grab hold of the starting position, but he has competition from Deshazor Everett and Jeremy Reaves. After moving on from Troy Apke last season, Washington got six starts from Everett and three from Reaves. In offseason workouts, Everett and McClain split starting reps.
The strong safety battle is even more intriguing.
The second-highest-paid safety, Landon Collins, is returning from an Achilles’ tendon tear and will be challenged by Kamren Curl, who excelled in Collins’ spot last season.
“The thing with Kamren is he's got great range and with that length it creates even more range. He's got a good nose for the ball, so he shows you he has some of that free safety skillset,” said Rivera. “That's why we rotated him in there with Collins a couple of times because there's some things that are intriguing.”
It’ll be an intriguing decision for defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. If he sticks with Curl, he must find a way to incorporate Collins as well. Rivera believes playing both will allow the team to take advantage of different matchups.
“Really what you have is two buffaloes when you have Kamren and Landon on the field at the same time. There are some things that [defensive coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] is going to be able to do with the defense, some things in terms of personnel groups and matchups. I think our guys give us options that can be exciting. So, I'm excited about that group of safeties we have right now.”
If the Washington Football Team can get the safety position squared away, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.