During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, former Lions defensive end Jason Jones offered defensive coordinator Teryl Austin position versatility.
Jones (6-5, 278) would play on the outside on first and second down, and was terrific at setting the edge there. On third down, the veteran would shift inside and give Austin an inside rushing threat.
Austin is hoping new free-agent signee Cornelius Washington can play a similar role for him this upcoming season.
"Jason was special inside," Austin said this week. "He was legitimate, like he had some really, really good knacks. I'm not saying Cornelius is there yet, but he gives us some of the same things because he is very tall.
"He's very long and he's very strong and that's where he's probably a little different than Jason. Jason's probably a little bit more fluid in there, where Cornelius is a little bit stronger."
Watching Washington in OTAs, he's imposing on the edge at 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds ... and he's not even in pads yet. He's also a terrific athlete. At the NFL Combine in 2013, he was timed at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, put up 36 reps in the bench press and had a vertical jump of 39 inches. He was 265 pounds back then, which means he's packed on about 30 pounds of muscle since entering the league.
"He is a big, strong man and I think the thing he's going to bring is a really, physical edge setter opposite of Ziggy (Ezekiel Ansah)," Austin said of Washington. "When we get into those situations, the things he can do is he has position flexibility on third down to move inside and be a really capable inside rusher. A big, strong guy inside.
"So, I think he's done some good things (in OTAs). It'll be really interesting to see how we go and how we develop as we get into camp and we really start getting things ready for the season."
View photos from Day 8 of Detroit Lions OTA practices.
For several reasons, injury being one, things never really clicked for Washington playing in Chicago the last four seasons. He played 31 of 48 games in four years with two starts. Both starts were last season. He had one sack in 2014 and two last year.
Washington is hoping a change in scenery, and a chance to get back into an aggressive 4-3 scheme (Chicago switched to a 3-4 defense in 2015), will be a perfect fit for his multidimensional skillset.
"I know how they run their defense," Washington said after signing with the Lions as a free agent. "I just felt like it was a good place, a good fit for me – someplace I could come in and have real good production.
"Their 4-3 scheme, it's blow and go. We play the run on the way to the pass. That's what I like about it. It's straight ahead. It's all go. No slowdown."