Inside job: Redskins improve their LBs
Brown joins Compton, Foster to bolster team’s run defense
The Washington Redskins are searching for stability and a greater impact from their inside linebackers.
The starters last year put up good numbers: Mason Foster led the team with 124 tackles and added a sack and a forced fumble.
Will Compton added 106 tackles, plus a fumble recovery and an interception.
But the Redskins were among the worst in the NFL against the run last year. So coaches and officials saw a need for additional options.
In free agency, the Redskins signed sixth-year veteran Zach Brown, who made the Pro Bowl for Buffalo last season after recording 149 tackles (second in the NFL).
Brown’s addition sets the stage for what essentially is a three-way competition for two jobs at the heart of the defense.
Brown appears to be the most athletic of the three, and this offseason, he focused more on studying quarterbacks’ passing tendencies in hopes of improving his coverage skills.
During offseason workouts, the trio rotated at the inside linebacker positions.
Compton often started off the base packages in his usual role as signal-caller of the defense at the “Mike” position, with Foster lined up next to him at the “Jack” position, just as they did last season.
Then, at times, Brown took Foster’s place — more often than not in nickel packages that are primarily used on passing downs. Other times, Foster replaced Compton with Brown lining up alongside him.
Look for similar rotations and pairings during training camp.
It’s possible that third-year pro Martrell Spaight joins the mix after missing offseason practices while rehabbing from a shoulder injury. He played primarily on special teams last season but at times filled in for Compton.
It’s believed, however, that the trio of Compton, Foster and Brown lead the way as favorites for the starting spots. Some insiders predicted that Brown will emerge as the starter at the “Jack” position, and that Compton and Foster will battle it out for the “Mike” position.
But with nothing decided yet, Redskins fans should stay tuned throughout training camp.