3 under-the-radar storylines to watch at Commanders at training camp
By Jerry Trotta
1. Will the Buffalo Nickel Position Get Scrapped?
In fairness to fans and the media, Ron Rivera and the coaching staff are the reason we’ve exaggerated the importance of the Buffalo nickel role.
We saw it when Rivera described Kam Curl’s versatility in 2020 and then last season when the head coach explained Landon Collins’ position switch. If you remember, Collins refused to label himself a linebacker after he was moved out of the secondary on a full-time basis and closer to the line of scrimmage.
Of course, the Commanders released Collins this offseason following the blockbuster trade for Carson Wentz. The team didn’t draft a linebacker and hasn’t signed one (yet), thus leaving the seemingly all-important Buffalo role vacant.
But are we sure it’s that vital to Washington’s defensive scheme? Per The Athletic’s Ben Standig, the position didn’t make an appearance until Week 3 of last season when the team was trying to stymie Buffalo’s (coincidence?) passing game with Jon Bostic (pec) and Benjamin St-Juste (concussion) out of the lineup.
"“It’s not as big as people are making it out to be,” DBs coach Chris Harris told The Athletic. “It’s just the (traditional) nickel position with a little more size.” “It’s interchangeable based on personnel groupings,” Harris said of the position. “(If offenses) want to get a little bigger, you may want to get a little stouter, play with a safety instead of a traditional nickel.”"
With no like-for-like Collins replacement on the roster, it sure sounds like the Commanders will deploy a Buffalo nickel solely depending on the matchup. Either way, it’s something to keep an eye on at camp in terms of whom they experiment with at the position … or if they just scrap it from their plans entirely.