In his rookie season, Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller is making an solid impact on a defensive unit that has benefited from his insertion into the starting lineup.
When the Redskins invested a third-round draft pick into Kendall Fuller in this year's draft, they expected big things from the Virginia Tech cornerback in the future.
Due to an injury to Week 1 starting nickel corner Deshaun Phillips, Fuller has been thrown into the position. He hasn't disappointed – the rookie has solidified his spot as the Redskins starting nickel corner.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry credited the teaching Fuller had at Virginia Tech to his solid play.
"You know, I'm going to give Virginia Tech a little plug right here because I said the same thing about Kyshoen Jarrett last year. He was just very mature, very football savvy, and Kendall is absolutely in the same mold," Barry said this week. "He is a rookie. He's obviously young, that's obvious. But he's very mature for his age, football mature I'm talking about. Very detailed, asks great questions."
In three weeks, Fuller has notched 16 tackles and broken up a pass.
Dating back to his Virginia Tech days, Fuller has excelled in coverage skills. With the rookie getting more and more experience each week, he should be an integral part of the Redskins defense now and in the future.
"You know, the biggest thing, playing any position but especially playing DB and specifically the nickel corner, you've got have a plan every week on how you attack the guy that you play based on what type of player that is, and usually young guys don't get that," Barry said.
"Usually young guys say, 'Oh, I get the call, I've got to play the call.' You know, 'I've got to play my leverage, I've got to do my job.'" Barry continued. "But you learn as you're in this league, you've got to approach every single wide receiver different. And it's cool that Kendall already understands that. He already really gets it and that's why I talk about his awareness, his savviness, his instincts, whatever you want to call it. He has that and it's really neat."
The defensive backs group started the 2016 season as one of the deepest units on the Redskins. But after several injuries in the first couple weeks, the Redskins have had several defenders play out of position.
But with Breeland and Phillips healthy, along with the emergence of Fuller, the defensive backs unit is just as strong as it was in week one.
"Now we have a lot of healthy bodies that are good players that can cover, and I don't mind putting anybody out there at any given time," Gruden said. "Whether it's [Greg] Toler, [Quinton] Dunbar, Breeland, obviously Josh [Norman], Phillips, [Kendall] Fuller, they're all good players. So, the more the merrier from what I see."