When the Redskins signed Zach Brown from the Buffalo Bills, conventional thought suggested the 2016 Pro Bowler would slide into the weakside linebacker role alongside Will Compton.
Brown made nearly 150 tackles last season in Buffalo, primarily playing that position.
Might be time to rethink that.
"When I was in Buffalo, what a lot of people don’t know, is we just played left and right side backer," Brown explained (full video above).
"If you were the Mike you were the Mike that play, if you were the Will backer you were the Will that play."
Forgive the jargon, but that's how football players speak. Mike means the strong side linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, Will means the weak side.
More importantly, Brown is saying he was not partial to either role, just that he lined up on the left side more often with Preston Brown playing the right side.
"Just left side, right side. Sometimes I called the plays but most of the time Preston called it," Brown said.
Surely the Redskins coaching staff understood Brown's positioning prior to his signing, and perhaps that's why Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has been creative in his rotation with Brown, Compton and Mason Foster during OTAs. All three will play this fall, and it seems the linebackers could be quite interchangeable. Brown explained that once he is up to speed in the defense, which should come by training camp, he'd be comfortable leading the huddle too.
"I have no problems calling the plays, it’s just whatever you want me to do," he said.
One thing to definitely expect from Brown is covering tight ends on third downs.
The linebacker called that a strength along with his ability to make tackles in the run game. Tight ends have performed well against the Redskins, so his coverage should be a boost, particularly on third downs. Brown has high-end speed and can get sideline to sideline fast.
For fans caught up in the starting lineup, whatever two linebackers take the field first in Week 1, know that all three of Brown, Compton and Foster will play a lot. Brown's versatility will help the Washington coaching staff keep him on the field.
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