ASHBURN — Kendall Fuller can do it all — and this season in Washington, he has.
Fuller, a Virginia Tech alumnus, is an outside cornerback for the Football Team but can also play slot corner or safety, and he possesses the smarts needed to play each of the three.
“That’s not normal,” Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. “There are few guys that are capable of that. I think being versatile, being super intelligent like he is ... we don’t want to take that for granted.”
This week brought a dilemma in how best to use Fuller. Starting safeties Landon Collins and Deshazor Everett are both injured, and the team lacks depth at the position.
Moving Fuller there, as the Football Team has done at times this season, would allow Washington to bolster one of its weakest positions. It would also allow cornerbacks like Jimmy Moreland and Fabian Moreau to get more playing time. However, it would take Fuller away from the position at which he’s best.
Ultimately, Washington decided to leave Fuller put — for now.
“The biggest thing is you really don’t want to move guys around because every time you move guys around, you’ve got to bring another guy in,” coach Ron Rivera said. “That means two new guys at two new positions. As little as possible movement is better than having to move a whole bunch of guys.”
That means the return of Troy Apke at safety. Apke, a former Penn State standout, fell out of favor with the previous administration, then won a starting job at this year’s camp.
His success was short-lived, though, as he was benched in October after struggling with coverage assignments.
Apke will line up alongside Kam Curl, the rookie from Arkansas who has impressed coaches so far this season. Jeremy Reaves, a former practice squad player, will serve as the backup.
As for free agent Eric Reid, who has a history of playing with Rivera, “I don’t think that ship has necessarily sailed,” the coach said.
Fuller said his ability to multitask comes from taking practice snaps at different positions. He said he’s willing to go where he’s needed.
“The amount of hours the coaches put into any decision that they make, anything they say they want to get done, is for us to win a ballgame on Sunday,” he said. “I always tell them, any time they need me to do anything, whether it’s nickel, safety, or whatever, I can go and slide in.”
Radio analyst Chris Cooley has been advocating using Fuller at safety for a few weeks now, to try to get the team’s best players on the field, even if it isn’t 100% ideal.
The safeties will be tested this week by Cincinnati star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, putting even more pressure on Washington’s defensive front to get to the QB.
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