When Ron Rivera looks at Kam Curl, he sees a little bit of Kendall Fuller

Peter Hailey
·2 min read

When Rivera looks at Curl, he sees a little bit of Kendall Fuller originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

With Eric Reid turning down Washington's recent offer of a spot on their practice squad, the defense will proceed with Deshazor Everett and Kamren Curl as their starting safeties. 

Landon Collins' season-ending injury has opened up a place in the lineup for Curl, and at first glance, one may be concerned at the thought of a seventh-round rookie assuming that kind of responsibility.

One person who isn't concerned? Ron Rivera.

"Kam is a bright, young man," Rivera told reporters on Wednesday after his team held their first practice following their bye week. "He works hard at it. I've been very pleased with his progress so far."

Curl's been somewhat overlooked when it comes to Washington's group of first-year pros. Part of that stems from his part-time usage through seven games, and part of it is due to all the interest surrounding other members of Rivera's initial draft class with the franchise, most notably Chase Young and Antonio Gibson.

The Day 3 defender did begin shining late in training camp, though, and he's steadily contributed in the regular season, too. He was on the field for more than 40-percent of the snaps in four of Washington's contests before the bye, and his share will obviously increase dramatically thanks to his new gig with the starters. 

Speaking of the starters, when evaluating what he likes so much about Curl's skill set, Rivera compared the Arkansas product to another member of the secondary.

"He's such a smart football player, reminds me a little bit of a younger [Kendall] Fuller, a guy that can give you some position flex in case you have injuries or if you want to do some sub-package stuff," he said.

Curl's instincts have popped on a few occasions already. This play, from the opener against Philly, hints at his ability to diagnose what the offense is trying to do and the aggressiveness he has to make sure they can't actually do it:

The question now becomes whether Curl can take what he did in a minor role and continue it in a major one. He doesn't possess elite speed and, thanks to this youth, he very well could be exposed in some coverage situations. 

Rivera is surely aware of Curl's flaws, but he wasn't scared enough by them to truly pursue Reid or another outside option to step in for Collins. Instead, Curl is getting that first shot, and his head coach is fully behind him.

"We just feel like Kam is a heck of a football player who can help us," Rivera said.