ASHBURN — Landon Collins has heard people label him solely as a box safety.
That term can be used as a negative, implying a player lacks the limited range to be an all-around safety. It’s a reason why some were skeptical the Redskins gave the 25-year-old a six-year, $84 million with $31 million guaranteed in the first two years.
Simply put, he disagrees.
“I laugh, honestly, because I’m not just an in-the-box safety,” Collins said at his introductory press conference Thursday. “I make plays in the box, yeah, but I make plays also other places. People see me in the box because that’s what teams ask me to do sometimes.”
The Redskins will ask their safeties to have interchangeable roles depending on the formation of the opposing offense. But typically, Washington used Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as the team’s free safety last season, while D.J. Swearinger was more in the box.
Coach Jay Gruden said he sees Collins as a tone setter. Over the last four years with the New York Giants, Collins made the Pro Bowl three times thanks to his hard-hitting and playmaking abilities. His best season came in 2016 — when he recorded 125 tackles, grabbed five interceptions and four sacks.
Gruden said whenever he watches film of Collins, “you just know where he is.”
“People say he’s just a box safety that’s very far from the truth I’ve seen him cover Jordan Reed out in space, he does a great job,” Gruden said. “He can do it all. Sure tackler. Fundamentals of tackling have gone out the window here. not with him; he’s a fundamentally sound guy. He’s a tone setter.
“I’ve been looking for — We have been looking for that type of player on our defense for a while, a tone-setting guy. That’s what he is.”
Collins said that last season he was asked to play closer to the line of scrimmage. But he added he was asked to play more free safety under former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who coached Collins for the first three years of his career.
“They do things that I like to do,” Collins said of the Redskins. “And then we have a great defensive front.
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