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Five things to know about Jeremy Chinn

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The Washington Commanders made some changes to their defensive backfield in free agency by signing former Carolina Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn. Here are five things to know about the new defensive back.

1. He was a strong candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

**Despite some speculation that Chinn, a standout cornerback and safety from Southern Illinois, would sneak into the first round,** he slipped all the way to the No. 64 pick, where the Carolina Panthers snatched him up. He was a solid player in college, earning all-conference and all-American honors throughout his career. Few expected him to show out the way he did during his rookie season.

As much as the Panthers struggled during Chinn's rookie season by finishing with a 5-11 record, he was already proving himself as important piece of the defense. He led the league in tackles with 117 stops, which ranked second among all safeties. He also filled up the stat sheet with a sack, five pass breakups and an interception.

But what stood out the most was Chinn's knack for scoring defensive touchdowns. He recovered two fumbles and returned both for scores. Both came against the Minnesota Vikings, and within 10 seconds of each other on the game clock. Chinn started the second half with a 17-yard return three plays into the Vikings' drive and then returned a 28-yard fumble on the first play of their ensuing possession.

The Panthers ultimately lost the game, 28-27, but Chinn showed how he can help swing momentum. Chinn finished the year second in votes for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award behind defensive end Chase Young.

2. He doesn't care where he long as he can make an impact.

Chinn has moved around a lot during his playing career. He got some snaps at running back playing for Fishers High School in Fishers, Indiana; he was a cornerback and safety for Southern Illinois; and he was listed as a linebacker as a rookie before playing strong and free safety.

All that movement proves two things: Chinn can be a versatile weapon for any defense, and he doesn't care where he plays if he can help his teammates.

"I just came in with a mindset -- you can use me wherever, as long as you're using me," **Chinn said back in 2021.**

Chinn's role on the Panthers' defense was always fluid because of the versatility he can add. It also helps that he showed his talent wherever they put him. After his impressive rookie year, he moved to safety and put up 107 tackles to go with five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Former defensive coordinator Phil Snow told Chinn that he wouldn't even have a defined role.

"He really didn't have a position for me, whether it be linebacker or safety," Chinn said. "He actually kinda had like a flex position. So, he was like, 'You're gonna have to learn this position.' I was like, 'All right.' I didn't know what it was. I was like all right whatever it is, I'll be ready for it."

Although Chinn is expected to stay at safety with the Commanders, it's still unclear exactly what his role will be. Whatever it is, though, he probably feels like he'll excel at it.

3. He earned his teammates' respect playing with the Panthers.

As a rookie, it's always important to make a positive impression on your teammates in the NFL. You're looking to prove yourself, and your teammates are waiting for you to earn their respect as well as your place on the team.

Chinn had no problem with that after his rookie season.

"The guy plays 110 mph each and every play," **former Panthers safety Tre Boston told The Athletic’s Joseph Person.** "He has those young, fresh legs, and he's able to use them. He's not afraid to hit. He can do just about everything. The guy is -- shoutout to his parents -- because he's a freak of nature. He's one of those guys who's built like a safety/linebacker/can do it all."

As mentioned above, Chinn had no problem showing that he could help his teammates on the field, as he moves around the defensive backfield and filled whatever role was required of him. Obviously, Chinn's teammates appreciated that, but they also noticed his energy and focus never wavered. It was also infectious.

"His motor, his energy, it makes you want to go harder," Donte Jackson said. "You see that guy run past you on film a few times, it gets you thinking about like, damn, am I really going that hard? So, he definitely brings out the best in a lot of the guys on the defense."

Those sound like some ringing endorsements, which should get Chinn's new teammates excited about playing alongside him.

4. Football runs in the family.

Every player has someone they look up to and tries to emulate their skill set after them. For Chinn, that player was Hall of Fame defensive back Steve Atwater, who is also Chinn's uncle.

"He's been a great resource for me," Chinn said. "He's somebody I can always reach out to. He's somebody who's done it. He's always somebody who's given words of encouragement ... He's been someone who I can count on. We really built a really good relationship."

Atwater, who spent most of his 11-year career with the Denver Broncos, was a star from the moment he joined the team in 1989. After finishing second in voting for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, he was voted to seven consecutive Pro Bowls and eight overall on top of getting First Team All-Pro consideration twice.

Therefore, it goes without saying that it takes a lot to impress Atwater. Chinn has done a good job of that so far.

"Good players make plays. And guys who hustle -- and Jeremy does an amazing job of flying to the ball. He's always in the vicinity, man. He makes plays," **Atwater told Person.**

5. He thinks he fits perfectly in Washington's new-look defense.

Defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. made it clear how the Commanders are going to play defense during his tenure. They're going to run and hit, play physically and create turnovers. That's all music to Chinn's ears.

"Just seeing his [Quinn's] defenses, what he was able to do in Dallas and also in Seattle," Chinn said. "Just his style, just a run-and-hit type defenses, I think that's perfect for my game and what I can do on the football field."

Attacking the ball is what Chinn feels that he does best. Whether he's close to the line of scrimmage or backing up in coverage, he feels like "there's no facet of my game that I can't excel in." He also loves to run and hit, so it makes sense that Washington's philosophies would attract him.

He can't wait to do both of those things wearing burgundy and gold.

"We can really create the culture that we want from the ground up," Chinn said.

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