Falcons vs. Redskins: Watch Zeke Motta

USA TODAY Sports

The rookie safety's got a daunting challenge ahead of him, but also an opportunity.

Being a young backup has a few advantages. If you don't see the field but show well in practice, there's a ton of buzz around you, and you get to be popular in a way a starter isn't. If you do get on the field and scuffle a bit, your performance is excused because you're young.

So it is with Zeke Motta. The seventh-round rookie safety hasn't exactly played well in relief of Thomas DeCoud, but DeCoud's well-chronicled struggles in coverage and Motta's ability to not fall flat on his face have endeared him to fans already. No one's sure if he's got the talent to be more than a backup, so everyone's going to cut him a little bit of slack if he messes up.

Make no mistake, though: This is a prime opportunity for Ol' Zeke. I wouldn't exactly say Thomas DeCoud's starting job is safe next season, and if Motta can prove he's got talent and the chops to play free safety, he may be in the conversation for that job next season. If he's even a little bit better than average, he should be able to stick as a capable backup. If he fails spectacularly, maybe it opens things up for Kemal Ishmael. There are many paths to walk for Motta.

So watch the guy closely. When the season gets late and the record leaves you cross-eyed, you've got to find other things to invest in. The performance of a young safety with some upside can be one of those, and a good game against Washington would help slow the runaway Kirk Cousins bandwagon. Let's hope for good things from Motta.

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