Coach Ron Rivera has known Luke since 2017, when the Carolina Panthers signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame. Although he has minimal experience at the NFL level (he has played only 16 defensive snaps) and lacks the speed of most true cornerbacks (he ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash at his pro day), he has the potential to play multiple spots. As a rookie in 2017, he took reps as Carolina’s No. 1 nickelback in training camp before landing on injured reserve with an Achilles’ injury. Two years later, he competed at free safety and ended up playing in eight games, though mostly on special teams.
“He’s a smart, headsy player,” Rivera told the Charlotte Observer at the time. “He played some corner, played some nickel for us. Last year, we kept him on the practice squad, working at the safety position, and he’s shown some aptitude for it.”
For Washington, Luke provides depth in the secondary, though it’s possible — at least initially — that he plays mostly on special teams. His potential to move around bodes well for a team that likes to use its defensive backs in a variety of ways, depending on the package and the opponent. Kendall Fuller, for example, has a history of playing all over the secondary, and although he has played primarily outside at cornerback this season, he also has dabbled in the slot and played a few snaps at free safety.
Luke could be used in the slot as an alternative to Jimmy Moreland, who has struggled in coverage at times this season. Luke, the nephew of former Dallas Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, also might be an option at free safety if Washington doesn’t like what it sees from Troy Apke. Should Luke spend any significant time there, it will mark Washington’s latest attempt to shore up the position since Rivera arrived. In the past 11 months, the team signed and later cut Sean Davis, started Apke for five games, started Everett for four games and now is slated to start Apke again until Everett is healthy.
Rivera has also left open the possibility that Jeremy Reaves could get a shot there, and he hasn’t closed the door on Eric Reid. Last month, the team offered the 28-year-old safety a spot on its practice squad, but Reid turned it down. According to Rivera’s recollection of their conversation, Reid “felt that he had kept himself in great shape and that he’d be ready for any action,” indicating he believed he deserved a spot on the active roster.
Rivera said he wanted to reward young players, such as Reaves and rookie Kam Curl, but this week he maintained that signing Reid hasn’t been ruled out.
“I don’t think that ship has necessarily sailed,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. ... We’ve got some young guys who we want to watch. We can go forward from there.”