5 sneaky threats for the Commanders to worry about vs. Cardinals

The Commanders can't ignore these sneaky threats against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1.

Zaven Collins
Zaven Collins / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders must contain Zaven Collins (DE)

New Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon built his reputation as defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles last season. His unit led the NFL with 70 sacks, mostly accrued by a relentless four-man rush.

Gannon's attempts to replicate the same formula with the Cardinals hinge on the development of Zaven Collins.

Collins can play the role Haason Reddick adopted during a career-high, 16-sack season for the Eagles on Gannon's watch. All 6-foot-1, 235 pounds of him converted from standup outside linebacker to dynamic, rush end in obvious passing situations.

There's no doubt Collins has a bigger body at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, but he's worked at multiple spots during training camp. An imaginative plan for the young edge-rusher is why Ben Solak of The Ringer believes the former first-round pick can be an X-factor.

"Collins, a 2021 first-rounder, is unique. He can play—and has played—as an off-ball linebacker at 260 pounds. But this year, new head coach Jonathan Gannon is moving Collins to the edge, where he has been quite efficient in limited snaps, logging a pressure on 13 percent of his pass-rushing snaps in 2022, per PFF. The Cardinals need a bright spot, and were Collins to find a role, that might be it"

Ben Solak, The Ringer

Collins could prove himself on the edge against a Commanders' front lacking a dominant offensive tackle. Starters Charles Leno Jr. and Andrew Wylie will likely need the help of a tight end to prevent him from living in Sam Howell's grid square.