In­side job: Red­skins im­prove their LBs

Brown joins Comp­ton, Foster to bol­ster team’s run de­fense

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - THE IN­SIDER BY MIKE JONES mike.jones@wash­ Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­­sider

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.

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