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Redskins Depth Chart: Will Landon Collins and Montae Nicholson work together at safety?

Redskins Depth Chart: Will Landon Collins and Montae Nicholson work together at safety?

The Redskins guaranteed Landon Collins nearly $45 million this offseason, and that wasn't all just because the former Giants safety has a deep respect and admiration for the late Sean Taylor. 


Washington needs to get the best version of Collins on the field this fall, and for a few seasons in the future, to validate the price tag. The former University of Alabama star can deliver too; his 2016 season in New York is one of the best years by a safety in the last decade. He grabbed five interceptions, made 125 tackles, defended 13 passes and recovered a fumble, landing him on the NFL's All Pro team, the league's highest honor.

No Redskins player has made an All Pro team since 1996. If Collins can touch his 2016 season, the contract is all the way worth it. The baseline for Collins' play will probably be around his other three seasons with the Giants: 100+ tackles, a few interceptions and a true thumping presence over the middle of the Redskins defense. 

There are intangibles that Collins will bring, undoubtedly, like leadership and a strong work ethic. And maybe that will help third-year pro, Montae Nicholson. 

Earlier this week, assault charges against Nicholson from a December incident outside of a Loudon County bar got dropped. That fight found him suspended for the final two games of 2018, but it appears, the team and the player could be moving forward in 2019. The Redskins declined to comment on the situation. 

Nicholson has high-end speed and the ability to cover ground fast, which might be just the right type of player to pair with Collins. If that duo can gel early on, taking advantages of chances to work together throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp, that could be a big development for the back of the Redskins defense. 

It's also important to point out Nicholson is no sure thing. He played well in spurts as a rookie before a disappointing second season. The Redskins thought so highly of Nicholson's level of play that they sent a fourth-round draft pick to Green Bay to acquire Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in midseason. Clinton-Dix also disappointed with his play and he left this offseason as a free agent. 

Nicholson has dealt with injury concerns too on top of the off-field issues. Controlling all that, and getting back to his rookie ability, that could be a tall order. 

The Redskins need that to happen though, because after Collins and Nicholson, the safety cupboard looks bare.

Deshazor Everett has been a solid special teams player in four seasons with the Redskins but gets very little snaps on defense. For whatever reason, the coaching staff rarely gives him opportunities with the starting group, and that doesn't seem likely to change. 

Washington used a fourth-round pick in 2018 on Penn State safety Troy Apke. He has elite speed, but little else. He played in just two games as a rookie amid injuries, and in a year he needed to mold from raw athlete to actual NFL safety, got very little work. The Redskins should have high expectations for Apke since they spent a fourth-rounder on him, but fans would be wise to limit their hopes. 

One player to watch with a decent chance at a roster spot: undrafted free agent JoJo McIntosh out of Washington. He doesn't have great speed but was highly productive in college. 

The 'Skins safety group is top heavy. Collins needs to prove he's worth getting big money, and the team must hope Nicholson can return to form. If that happens, the unit could be strong. If not, look out below. 


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Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

A news storm ensued after Derrius Guice was arrested on domestic violence charges and subsequently released by the Washington Football Team. Seemingly lost in the shuffle was some news about yet another knee injury for the third-year running back. 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Guice hurt his knee again the day before he was released.

This would have been huge news for the former second-round pick, who's grappled with knee injuries throughout the first two seasons of his career. He suffered a torn ACL as a rookie, a meniscus tear at the beginning of last season and an MCL sprain later on in 2019 as well.

There was hope for Guice to become a featured back, and he certainly had the ability to become one had he been able to stay healthy. 


It's unclear how much another knee injury had to do with Guice's release, though it certainly couldn't have made things easier on Guice's hopes to stay on the roster. He later went unclaimed on waivers, making him a free agent for the first time in his young career.

Washington doesn't have much time to worry about Guice now. They have to figure out how to distribute the carries between Adrian Peterson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love without a preseason schedule to test things out.

With their first taste of game action this season set as a September 13 clash with the Eagles, Peterson figures to start off as the lead back behind Dwayne Haskins based on experience alone. Peterson has over 3,000 career carries under his belt while the other four options have combined for 639.

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Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Training camp should be a major opportunity for Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins to get a lot of work with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner and the new playbook, but if Alex Smith is healthy, the reps for Haskins might shrink.

"The biggest thing we’ve got to do is not make sure we’re divvying up the reps as evenly as possible, but we divvy up who they work against. This could be a very interesting challenge for us because of QB Alex Smith. If Alex is healthy and continues to get healthy and we do activate him, he’s going to be in the throes of this competition," head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday. 

The Washington Football Team drafted Haskins 15th overall last year, only after Smith suffered a broken leg in November 2018. Rivera wasn't around for either of the decisions to draft Haskins or trade for Smith, but now the new coach gets to try and solve the QB riddle in Washington. 

Haskins struggled as a rookie in part because he didn't get much practice work with the first team offense. It was obvious how little Haskins knew of the offense and his offensive teammates when he first got on the field in Week 4 last year. Some of that might have been self-inflicted, regardless, Haskins needed the work. 

Now in his second season, Haskins got exactly zero team drills in this offseason due to Coronavirus. None. 

So, with what should be the most important training camp of his young professional career, Haskins again might face another hurdle in the return of Smith. 

Smith deserves tremendous accolades for his recovery after 17 surgeries and intense infection in his leg. But is Smith getting back on the field the best thing for a young Washington team trying to rebuild?

Haskins is 23. Smith is 36.


Haskins has tremendous potential, Smith has already proven he can produce.

Haskins has started seven NFL games. Smith has started seven NFL playoff games. 

Considering all of that, Haskins should get the most work of any Washington passer.

Take note that Rivera didn't say the reps needed to be equitable, but rather the level of competition. Haskins needs more reps than Smith or Kyle Allen.


Smith has been in the NFL since he was drafted first overall in 2005. Allen started 13 games for Rivera and Turner in the last two seasons. Haskins hasn't even been through a padded practice with Rivera and Turner. 

It makes total sense to get Allen reps against the first-team defense. He needs to be prepared. And should Smith get medically cleared to be back on the field against a defense, he should get some of those reps too. Washington needs to see what Smith has left if he actually gets cleared for football.

Still, Haskins should get the majority of that work. He needs it, and Rivera needs to see what he has in the former Ohio State star. 

Smith's recovery is an incredible story, but Rivera's plan in Washington is a long-term rebuild to put together a consistent playoff team. That means getting Haskins on the field as much as possible. 

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