Montae Nicholson had emerged for the Washington Redskins this season as someone who could help solve their long-standing safety problems. But there was one issue: Nicholson couldn't stay healthy. And now his season has ended because of a concussion.
The Redskins placed Nicholson on injured reserve Tuesday, promoting Fish Smithson off the practice squad. While it's a good opportunity for Smithson, it's a tough blow for the Redskins and Nicholson. The rookie fourth-round pick had become the starting safety after Su'a Cravens was placed on a reserve/exempt list before the season.
The Redskins have 15 players on injured reserve with 11 either considered starters or key reserves.
But Nicholson had to deal with multiple shoulder injuries, causing him to exit one game early and miss two others. After he returned, Nicholson played a half game vs. New Orleans before suffering the concussion. He has not played since that Week 11 loss. Nicholson, at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, has the size and speed to help solve the Redskins' safety woes, which date back a decade. His presence enabled D.J. Swearinger to play more in the box as a strong safety. With Nicholson out, Swearinger has played more free safety of late.
Deshazor Everett has been starting opposite Swearinger with DeAngelo Hall as the third safety. Last week, when the Redskins used their dime defense they played with four corners and two safeties. For the future, Nicholson should still be given a shot at being their starting safety. The problem for Washington is that it needed to see more than just snippets. He showed what he might be able to do, but the Redskins won't go into the offseason knowing if he can do it consistently or if his durability will be a factor.
It's also likely that, as of now, Cravens would be elsewhere in 2018, possibly via trade. The Redskins don't need to trade him, however, as he's signed through 2019.
As for Smithson, he has been on the Redskins' practice squad since the start of the season.