When the Redskins drafted Kendall Fuller out of Virginia Tech, many considered it a steal. Widely considered one of the top corners in the country going into the 2015 college football season, Fuller's draft stock fell after a knee injury, allowing the Redskins to poach the Hokie in the third round.
The good news for Fuller and Washington is that his knee has not been an issue. Fuller played throughout training camp and the preseason, showing the rookie learning curve at times while making plays and strong tackles in other spots. Through two games, however, Fuller has not made the 'Skins active roster.
"Right now he’s just the odd man out, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be forever," coach Jay Gruden said of Fuller.
In losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas, the Redskins pass defense has struggled in spots. Josh Norman has been stout, but the rest of the defense has looked confused in assignments and missed some coverages at times. A rookie like Fuller is unlikely to be the solution, but it is possible he could help, especially facing a Giants offense with Eli Manning throwing to Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard.
Gruden did not rule out Fuller playing this week, but it didn't sound like a ringing endorsement either.
"It could be just for this week, might be next week," Gruden said, "he’ll be up and ready to roll."
The coach explained that Fuller is getting good work on the scout team and working on his readiness.
"He’s mentally getting himself there. Physically, I think he’s starting to feel really, really good. I think it’s just a matter of time before he gets up.”
On game days, the 'Skins have dressed Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Dashaun Phillips, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler at corner and then DeAngelo Hall, David Bruton, Deshazor Everett and Will Blackmon at safety. Duke Ihenacho dressed for the second game but was inactive Week 1. What hurts Fuller is that some of the safeties can also play corner as needed, certainly Hall and Blackmon, and Everett is a special teams star while Blackmon works as kick returner.
Versatility is a key that for now is slowing down Fuller's progress. Coming off a knee injury, and with potential of being a top-tier corner, the Redskins are unlikely to ask much of Fuller on specials.
Whether Fuller plays Week 3 in New York, or doesn't make the active roster until later in the season, the Redskins brass still views their rookie as a long-term asset. Impatient fans tired of watching the Washington defense give up pass completions may want to see Fuller sooner.