“I would say ‘tough’ and I wouldn’t be lying,” Nicholson said in describing last season. “Like I said, everything happens for a reason. I can’t complain. I wasn’t really in a position to succeed [because of injuries] and [the team] saw that. At the end of the day, I want to win. If that means I’m not [a starter], I’ll take that back seat.”
His goal, Nicholson said, is to get his starting job back.
“Of course, that’s where I hope things end up, but everything happens for a reason,” Nicholson said. “If it’s not me, there’s no falloff. We’re just competing every day trying to make each other better so the team can be better.”
The team has worked him back on a limited basis during organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, splitting first-team reps with Deshazor Everett. Nicholson said he feels better physically and has learned more about how to take care of his body off the field. He has dealt with injuries in each of his two seasons, ending the 2017 on injured reserve following a concussion, and he had some migraines and lingering issues last season in addition to nagging ankle, hip and shoulder injuries.
Landon Collins is a lock to start at one safety position after signing an $84 million deal in free agency. Clinton-Dix signed with the Bears this offseason, so that leaves Nicholson, Everett and second-year pro Troy Apke competing for the other starting slot. Both Gruden and Nicholson stressed that communication will be an important factor in the final decision.
“The big thing from Montae is just to get the communication down with Landon and whoever the other safety is,” Gruden said. “That’s the big thing about the safety position is, who’s down, who’s in the post? Communication is critical for those guys.”