Landon Collins is looking smooth at the strong safety role for the Washington Football Team. Isn’t that what WFT wants entering Year 3 of his megadeal?
On Friday, Collins flew around the football field at training camp in Richmond. He looked like the All-Pro defensive back that shined in New York for his first four seasons. On Saturday? Same thing.
Collins notched a pair of interceptions during the second half of practice. The first one came on tipped pass from the linebacker spot, leading to the safety making a diving grab for the pick.
The second one was against WFT quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the red zone. Collins read through the 38-year-old’s progression, timed the route in stride and jumped the ball to cause his second turnover.
“I think he’s just pretty much picking up where he left off,” WFT coach Ron Rivera said about Collins after practice. “That is he has a better understand of how we’re doing things and the things that we do.”
Collins is still working through his recovery from a torn Achilles suffered last October. No one is expecting him to be a full strength yet, but he’s showing growth not just in his health, but also his understanding of the defensive front under Rivera and Jack Del Rio.
Showing a glimpse of his pre-injury 2020, Collins looked more fluid and comfortable in the defensive look. With time, plus more reps, maybe it all comes together in time for Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers?
“He’s really taken the kind of steps that we’re hoping he will,” Rivera said. “He’s a tremendous talent, and that’s one of the things you really like about who he is. Once we put pads on, I’m not too worried about him because his strength is his physical play.”
Here’s other notes and observations from Washington’s final day in Richmond
Scary Terry Is Back For Year 3
Stop if you’ve heard this before: Terry McLaurin is underrated. How much so? Fans across the league never mention his name during Sundays and certainly not during practice.
Saturday was another strong practice for the third-year receiver. The chemistry between McLaurin and Fitzpatrick is emerging, meaning that could be trouble for defensive backs if they fail to win at the line of scrimmage.
“He has good body control when the balls in the air, and he can put himself in good position to make a play or make that catch,” Rivera said.
Check out this route against William Jackson III. That certainly looks like a top-tier target in the NFL when asking around the neighborhood.
Have A Day Holcomb
Collins was the biggest name to have a quality practice, but he wasn’t the only one on the defense to strut his stuff. Cole Holcomb once again continues to show he can be an asset in coverage. More importantly, he made the pick of camp.
Against Taylor Heinicke, Holcomb was able read the quarterback’s eyes and set himself up for a big-time play. Jumping in the air and reading down the pass, Holcomb was able to tip the ball, finishing with a one-handed interception to the roar of the crowd.
Del Rio hasn’t released what his defense will look like in a nickel formation. Jamin Davis, the team’s first-round pick, likely stays on the field because of his coverage skills coming out of Kentucky. If they run another linebacker? Holcomb is the guy.
Dax vs. DeAndre for WR6?
Should Washington elect to keep six wide receivers, Dax Milne and DeAndre Carter are going to make Rivera’s job tough. On Saturday, both ended practice consistently finding ways to get open.
Milne finished with one of the best contested catches of camp, colliding with a defender but still managing to keep possession of the ball. Carter finished with three catches, including one in the end zone against press coverage.
Between the two, Carter could have the edge. As the final receiver, he also brings value on special teams in the return game. Maybe Milne continues to show his value, but Cater certainly showed he’s more than just a “special teams” type.
Rivera isn’t messing around with players who are not vaccinated. Washington now has six players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff and tackle Davis Sharpe. On Saturday, the joined both Matt Ioannidis and Curtis Samuel, two players who currently are on the list.
Rivera mentioned how with the new NFL ruling on COVID-19, none of those players would have been available if the season started Sunday.
“Those guys would not be eligible, so, to me, it brings the reality of what the rules are,” Rivera said, “and I hope it helps. But these young men have to make their decisions.”
Washington currently ranks next to last in terms of vaccination rate, having just climbed above 70% of players having at least one dose. Scherff, who spoke to reporters Friday, said it was a “personal choice” to not receive the vaccine and everyone should have that decision.
“Nobody’s made a deal of it,” Scherff said. “You know, we’re all here to play football and that’s what we’re doing.”
Rivera won’t cut Scherff because the team needs his blocking skills to win. The same likely falls for players like Samuel, Ioannidis and Cornelius Lucas. Other names? Two doses of one of the vaccines might actually help them remain employed.
CONTINUE READING: WFT Camp Notebook Day 1: Fitzpatrick Favorite Target?