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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Zach Brown adds playmaking element to inside linebackers

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Zach Brown adds playmaking element to inside linebackers

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

We started with the defensive line. Today the focus turns to inside linebacker

2016 final game starters: Will Compton, Mason Foster

Compton was the Mike linebacker, calling the defensive signals.  

Departures: Terence Garvin (UFA)

Garvin was primarily a special teams contributor, playing only 58 snaps on defense

Projected 2017 starters: Compton, Zach Brown

No coaches have spoken to the media since Brown was signed as a free agent last Monday so this is highly unofficial. Brown and Foster both have called defensive signals from time to time but the coaches are more likely to be comfortable with Compton calling the defense. That makes Brown the starter alongside Compton and Foster playing the nickel role.  

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 7.0

It should be noted that Compton is technically unsigned. He is a restricted free agent and the Redskins tendered him at $1.8 million. Compton hasn’t signed the tender yet and it’s still possible that another team can make him an offer sheet that the Redskins would have the option to match. But his return seems very likely.

2017 reserves: Foster, Martrell Spaight, Chris Carter, Zach Vigil, Steven Daniels

Spaight started one game when Compton was injured and did an adequate job. Vigil will get a shot at showing what he has after the Redskins claimed him on waivers in Week 16. Daniels suffered a shoulder injury in training camp and he spent the season on injured reserve. The Redskins will be Carter’s fifth team in seven NFL seasons; he will compete for Garvin’s reserve/special teams role.

Where can the inside LB’s find improvement?

The biggest boost here should be Brown. He brings speed to a defense that lacks it. In fact, if you go by combine 40 times, Brown is faster than any of the Redskins’ starting four defensive backs. Last year Brown’s playmaking ability helped him make his first Pro Bowl; he posted an interception, two forced fumbles, and 4.5 sacks.

MORE REDSKINS: The Redskins week that was

Brown is on a one-year contract, Foster is in the last season of his contract, and, as noted, Compton is on the one-year tender. The Redskins will not hesitate to consider drafting an inside linebacker such as Haason Reddick (who visited Redskins Park recently) or Zach Cunningham.

Compton won't get faster or more athletic but he does spend a lot of time in the film room. He is the kind of player who could improve as he accumulates more knowledge and makes up for his lack of sheer speed with better anticipation.

Locks and bubble players

Compton, Foster, and Brown are set. Spaight is likely to make the final 53 in September since he has game experience. A high draft pick would also be a lock, of course.

Last year, they kept five inside linebackers on the roster but it’s possible they will keep only four. That would leave Carter, Vigil, and Daniels either fighting for one spot or on the outside looking in.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Maybe the Redskins aren't as banged up on defense as we thought they were

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Associated Press

Maybe the Redskins aren't as banged up on defense as we thought they were

The Redskins’ defense may not be as banged up as we thought it was.

On Thursday, the first day of serious preparation for their Monday night game in Philadelphia, injured defenders CB Josh Norman (rib), CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), and S Deshazor Everett (hamstring) all practiced on a limited basis.

Norman was inactive against the 49ers after suffering a broken rib against the Chiefs on October 2. Breeland injured his knee against San Francisco. They are the starters and if they both can play against the 5-1 Eagles it would be a huge boost to the defense.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

It should be noted that both cornerbacks only took part in individual drills so it is no sure thing that either will be ready to play in Philadelphia. But having them at practice was a good start.

Everett is a reserve safety and a key special teams contributor. His presence in the latter area could be important as the Eagles’ performance on special teams is among the best in the league.

LB Ryan Anderson (back) and S Stefan McClure (knee) both practiced on a limited basis.

Also practicing was S DeAngelo Hall. He has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of training camp rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in 2016. The team now has a 21-day window during which they can activate him. However, he must sit out at least one more game.

On offense, Trent Williams (knee) did not practice. That is not ideal but he was able to play last Sunday after being out of practice all last week.

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Jay Gruden announced roster moves that had been reported previously, with K Dustin Hopkins (hip) and DE Jonathan Allen (foot) going on injured reserve. First-year player Nick Rose will handle the place kicking duties and A.J. Francis will take Allen’s roster spot.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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A.J. Francis promoted to Redskins' 53-man roster

A.J. Francis promoted to Redskins' 53-man roster

The Redskins put Jonathan Allen on injured reserve and brought in a familiar face to replace him on the roster.

Jay Gruden announced that the team has signed former practice squad member A.J. Francis to take the place of Allen, who suffered a Lisfranc injury last Sunday in the game against the 49ers. Francis spent part of last season on the Redskins practice squad and he was on the 53-man roster for a couple of weeks, although he did not appear in a game. Francis also was on the team this year before being released in the cut to 53 on September 2.  

The former Maryland standout has played in three NFL games, all in 2015, appearing in two for the Seahawks and one for the Dolphins.

RELATED: MORE ON ALLEN'S INJURY

In all, Francis has been a part of 22 transactions, starting when he signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

Allen has undergone surgery to repair the foot already. The normal schedule for a Lisfranc calls for a player to stay off of the foot for 6-8 weeks and then start rehabbing, which can take a month or possibly a lot longer.

He would be eligible to be activated off of injured reserve after missing eight games, which means he technically could play in Week 15 against the Cardinals. But that would be an extremely optimistic timetable for such an injury.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.