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Redskins Camp Battles: Inside Linebackers

Hogs Haven takes a look at the heated training camp battles entering the 2016 season.

New Orleans Saints v Washington Redskins Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

The Redskins have officially opened Training Camp 2016 in Richmond, VA and with a couple of practices already in the books, it’s clear that once again this roster has a number of position battles on its hands.

To start things off, let’s highlight the ILBs coming into camp and what we can expect and look for at that position as Will Compton, Mason Foster, Perry Riley, and the rest of that group battle it out in the Richmond heat.

Inside Linebackers

Locks: Will Compton, Mason Foster, *Su’a Cravens (S/LB)

In The Mix: Perry Riley, Martrell Spaight, Steven Daniels, Terence Garvin, Carlos Fields

Perry Riley was just activated off the PUP list today and that’s going to make the battle at ILB a lot more interesting heading into the next few weeks. Mason Foster and Will Compton have been working as the first-team ILBs since Riley went down late last year... and they’ve done a great job.

Will Compton has been with the Redskins for a few years now, but last year he really blossomed and has basically locked-up one of the starting ILB spots. He amassed a staggering 122 tackles last year (the most of any returning Redskins). What stands out the most with Compton is that he’s an incredibly vocal player who is really a leader on the defense thanks to his communication skills. He’s really turned himself into a leader. His communication skills give him a unique ability to elevate the play of the other guys on defense with him, especially whoever’s starting next to him at the other ILB spot. For example, Perry Riley was having an OK season last year before Compton took over as a starter next to him. And once Compton took that spot, boy was it noticeable in Riley’s play. His level of play increased almost immediately. Once he went down, Mason Foster, a guy other teams weren’t exactly banging down the door for last year as a FA, stepped right in and played at an incredibly high level. All of that is thanks in part to Compton’s ability to get guys in the right spots and recognize offensive plays before they develop. He’s smart and communicates well... two very valuable characteristics on any defense.

Mason Foster is a guy the Redskins picked up mid-season last year after Martrell Spaight went on IR. Normally you don’t expect guys who are available once a season has begun to step in and be able to have a large impact on a team or gain a starting position. In Foster’s case... you’d be wrong. Foster is an experienced vet really at his physical peak. He’s played a lot of NFL football and been a starter for a vast majority of his career. He’s a tackling machine.

Don’t discount Perry Riley in this whole starting battle just yet, though. When healthy, Riley’s been a starter on this team consistently for the past five years.

Spaight’s a young guy entering his second season though it basically amounts to his rookie season as he missed basically all of last year after being “red-shirted” with a concussion. Carlos Fields is back and the ‘Skins went out and brought Terence Garvin in in FA while drafting Steven Daniels out of BC in the sixth round of the draft. Garvin is a little on the light side and known as a STs ace while Daniels is a big guy for the position known as a real thumper who excels against the run and struggles in pass coverage.

Then there’s Su’a Cravens. Su’a’s one of the more interesting players on this roster. The second-round rookie is a big S and/or a smaller, fast ILB. He’s versatile and can (and almost certainly will) contribute at multiple spots on this defense. He’s young and the team has decided to have him work at ILB to start off this off-season to help him learn the defense. He’s listed as a S but has been practicing exclusively at ILB. He’ll be asked to learn multiple positions, guard opposing TEs, and be the play-maker he was in college.