Washington Football: Troy Apke faces intense battle for roster spot in 2020
Washington Football Team safety Troy Apke had the best year statistically of his short career during the 2019 NFL season. Can he build on it and show enough with limited reps in training camp to remain with the club in 2020?
The previous season for the Washington Football Team was one that would be quickly forgotten after the final whistle of a 47-16 blowout loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys in AT&T Stadium in Week 17.
After the loss to the Cowboys, there seemed to be an understanding by senior leadership that Washington needed a better leader at head coach, and that the team needed to be much tougher in every facet of the game. Old-school football people will tell you that instilling toughness starts on defense.
The absymal 3-13 record in 2019 for the Washington Football Team obviously led to multiple changes, but the biggest have mostly been on defense. These changes started with the hiring of head coach Ron Rivera: An old-school football mind who is eager to instill toughness and a winning culture for a team that desperately needs both.
A change in leadership will most assuredly affect the standing of every single player on the team in which a change is made. Each and every player must fall under what the new coach is looking for in terms of attitude, production, and skill-set. The particular player of note we will discuss with this in mind is Troy Apke.
The former Penn State product was not overly productive in college, nor has he gotten off to an ideal start since being selected by Washington in the 2018 NFL Draft. The 2019 season was Apke’s best to date, as he received increased playing time due to injuries. He was able to post a modest 26 tackles and one interception as a member of the defense and as a contributor on special teams.
The play that has stood out for Apke the most since being drafted was his lone interception and return last year in Week 7 at FedEx Field against QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. Apke showed solid hands and positional understanding in being able to make what was a really tough play given the extremely sloppy conditions due to intense rain in the local area.
However, when it came to Apke even making the final 53-man roster in 2019, yours truly was perplexed as other members of the defensive secondary performed better throughout the preseason. Apke’s main competition in DB Jeremy Reaves arguably proved to be a better player at the position during that time.
In the 2020 NFL season, Apke must show enough with limited reps in camp that he would be a better fit for this new staff, team, and culture. Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will surely not come in favoring any particular player in determining roster spots based solely on draft status or physical tools alone.
If Apke has anything though, he does have decent size and above-average speed for a DB. His combination of size and speed has likely been a major factor in him having a roster spot to date. He must further use these tools in the upcoming season, along with being able to understand the nuances of the position and game, in order to fight off Reaves and rookie Kamren Curl to keep his roster spot.
The upcoming season will be one like we haven’t seen before. Obviously there will be either limited to no fans in the stands due to the pandemic. But, for the players, there has not been much time other than virtually to impress the new coaching staff. Troy Apke will face an uphill battle in order to stick with the team. I wouldn’t be pencilling him in on the final roster just yet.