The Redskins are still depleted at inside linebacker entering Sunday’s game against the Eagles. But they’re not quite as depleted as they were a week ago in the Meadowlands, where they had only three players—and just two with any regular season experience—active against the Giants.
Earlier this week, the team signed free agent Mason Foster, a 26-year-old who started 54 games at middle linebacker for the Buccaneers from 2011-14. Although the plan is for Foster to see the majority of his reps on special teams for now, his extensive experience would allow him to step in on defense on Sunday if needed.
The addition of Foster was necessary because Perry Riley will be sidelined for a second straight week due to a calf muscle strain he suffered against the Rams.
“[Foster] came in off the street and has picked up the system quickly,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “He can help on special teams, without a doubt. And if something happens to [Will] Compton—knock on wood—or Keenan [Robinson], he’s got a chance to get some reps. He’s ready to go.”
The Redskins hope they won’t need Foster against the Eagles, obviously. But it’s reassuring knowing that he’s there—if needed. Last week, undrafted rookie Terrance Plummer was listed as the third inside linebacker while outside linebacker Trent Murphy was considered an emergency option.
The Redskins have been hit hard by injuries throughout the lineup, but especially at inside linebacker. Reserves Adam Hayward (knee) and Martrell Spaight (concussion) have been lost for the season and Riley has been unable to practice the past two weeks, though he's begun working off to the side.
With Riley sidelined, Compton will get the nod again and will start alongside Robinson. Compton had 11 tackles, second most on the team behind Robinson’s 13, in the loss to New York.
“I thought Will stepped in and did a great job in Perry’s absence,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “Again, the mantra we’ve tried to build is, ‘You’re not a backup, you’re a starter in waiting.' Perry went down and Will stepped up and I thought he did a fine job for us.”
It's unclear when Riley will be able to return to game action, but the fact that he's been able ramp up his level of activity in recent days is certainly a positive development.