Landon Collins will really make the biggest difference on the Redskins' defense when Week 1 rolls around. That'll be when the team's critical free agent signing can don his helmet and game uniform and throw around his thick frame to help against the run and in coverage.
However, he's already looking to influence and improve the unit in another way at OTAs, and Jay Gruden has noticed it now that the safety is starting to participate more in the May sessions.
"He's a good guy to have out there, he's a communicator," Gruden said in his post-practice presser.
Collins has yet to fully get involved in every snap, as he and the team are trying to be patient with his comeback from a shoulder injury. Still, the increased action is a delightful development, according to a guy who's a self-described hater of sitting around, and now he's looking to get himself in shape and also learn about his new DBs.
"Going through the process, making sure I'm right for my teammates, making sure my guys are right for themselves," Collins answered when asked what he looks to accomplish in these offseason get-togethers.
You can look at plenty of things — including the 25-year-old's monstrous production in the NFL thus far or his monstrous contract — and know that when the 'Skins line up against the Eagles in Week 1, No. 20 will be at one starting safety spot. But the job next to him is still very unsettled, with players like Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett vying for the trust of coaches.
So, what will Collins be hoping his fellow starter will eventually bring to the secondary? His answer shouldn't surprise you.
"Great communication," he said first, before also mentioning a ball-hawking attitude as another prerequisite.
Collins' new defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, was presented with the same question. His response was more Xs-and-Os-focused, though.
"They call them safeties for a reason," Manusky said. "They're safety valves. If something breaks through, they have to make those plays on the back end... From a coverage standpoint, they're going to cover those main tight ends."
Regardless of whoever emerges, he'll slide next to a leader who clearly values getting everyone thinking and playing the same way. For a defense that often cited that as their main issue in 2018 — how many easy 60-yard TDs did Drew Brees have against the Burgundy and Gold last year on Monday night? Like, seven? — that makes Collins an ideal addition.
So, hopefully, his devotion to the vocal side of football will generate more consistency. But, of course, you should be thrilled to see him contribute to the physical side of football come September, too.
"It's hard to tell when his presence is felt in shorts," Gruden said, "but when the pads are on, that's when you feel Landon."
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