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When, or if, Reuben Foster plays for the Redskins, what happens at linebacker?

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USA TODAY Sports

When, or if, Reuben Foster plays for the Redskins, what happens at linebacker?

Some corners of Redskins Park felt vindicated when domestic violence charges from a November incident in Florida got dropped against Reuben Foster.

Following that incident, his second of 2018, the 49ers quickly released Foster, a 2017 first-round pick. The Redskins immediately claimed Foster off waivers, the only NFL team to put a claim in on the talented but troubled linebacker. He also served a drug-related suspension last year to open the season. 

Looking ahead to 2019, things might look different for Foster. The NFL seems likely to suspend him, but at some point, barring more trouble, Foster should take the field for Washington. 

When, or if, that happens, the Redskins should have quite an asset on their hands. 

Foster was a playmaker in college at the University of Alabama, and looked like a potential star as a rookie. He logged more than 70 tackles in 10 games and has tremendous lateral speed and hitting power. It's important to note that in two seasons in San Francisco, he also dealt with injuries. 

How does he fit in with the Redskins?

Much will depend on what happens with Zach Brown.

After consecutive seasons with more than 125 tackles in 2016 and 2017, Brown's numbers dipped in 2018. He also got benched late in the year for rookie Shaun Dion Hamilton.

Brown, scheduled to make nearly $9 million next season, said late in the Redskins 2018 campaign that he sees "the writing on the wall" about his future with the organization. If he was released, the 'Skins would save nearly $6 million against the salary cap.  

Even considering all that, the Redskins would be wise to consider the full scenario in play. 

Foster seems likely to get at least a four-game suspension in 2019, and six games might be the punishment. That also assumes he is able to avoid other trouble. 

Since he left college, Foster got thrown out of the NFL Scouting Combine for an incident with a hospital worker, failed a drug test, and has twice been arrested for domestic violence. Neither charge stuck and there are lots of questions surrounding both arrests, but still, that's a lot of off-field incidents in less than two years. 

Brown has missed practice time with undisclosed "illnesses" but nothing that compares to Foster's resume. 

And whatever happened to Brown in 2018 did seem an outlier season.

In 2017, he was the Redskins best defensive player. In 2018, he seemed out of sync and lost in coverage. First, he came off the field on third downs. Later, he got benched for Hamilton. 

Brown explained that he played through a torn oblique for much of the 2018 season, an injury that happened in training camp, and probably should have taken the time to rehab that injury instead of pushing ahead. That might explain much of the tackling dropoff. Keep in mind too that Pro Football Focus rated Brown among the top linebackers in the NFL, and the best defender on the Redskins roster. 

Still, his salary might be too high for a Redskins team that needs cap relief. Every financial decision this offseason will be framed by the $20 million committed to QB Alex Smith, who seems highly unlikely to play next season after suffering a horrific leg injury in November. 

Of course, there are other linebackers in the equation.

Mason Foster carries a $2.25 million salary for next season, a much more manageable figure for a veteran LB and locker room leader, but Foster doesn't have the speed or athleticism of Brown. Josh Harvey-Clemons rounds out the current group, and Washington could certainly add more in the draft. 

Looking ahead to the fall, seeing Hamilton and Reuben Foster on the field seems like a very real possibility.

Hamilton can make the defensive play calls, and Foster can make the athletic plays. The two did that well in college at Alabama.

But that probably won't happen the first month of the season, at least.

Washington's margin for wins in 2018 was narrow. The team needed to play great defense. In 2019, that margin looks even slimmer, particularly with the questions at quarterback. 

For a team with thin margins to wins, does cutting Brown really make sense? Especially if Foster gets suspended?

There will be competing interests.

When the Redskins decided to claim Reuben Foster, the team knew there would be a massive public relations backlash. It happened. From a football and salary cap perspective, however, signing Foster was a bold and smart strategic move.

The point is there are often multiple angles to look at one decision.

Cutting Brown would be a smart move for the cap. It might even be welcomed by some around the organization.

But from a straight football perspective, it's rarely wise to get rid of good players, regardless of the circumstances. The Redskins already did that when they released DJ Swearinger before the final game of the 2018 season. 

Can they afford to do it again?

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Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers say they won't have any fans for at least their first two home games this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Lambeau Field will not be the same without our fans' energetic support in the stands," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "Given the extraordinary circumstances this year and the additional protocols in place, though, we determined it was best to take incremental steps to start the regular season. These two games will allow us to focus our attention on safely conducting games inside the stadium with all necessary participants."

That means there won't be any spectators for their Sept. 20 game with the Detroit Lions and their Oct. 5 Monday night game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Green Bay's third home game is Nov. 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. Packers officials say any decision on whether to admit fans for that game would depend on the status of the pandemic, and that they'd consult with local health officials.

This announcement comes two weeks after Packers CEO Mark Murphy had said that any Packers home games this year would include no more than 10,000-12,000 spectators, if any fans were allowed at all.

All other public areas at Lambeau Field, including parking lots, the pro shop and the Packers Hall of Fame, will be closed during the home games that have no fans. The Titletown area surrounding Lambeau Field will remain open to the public, but no team-run, game-day activities will be planned.

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Radio host Kevin Sheehan says it would be 'major indictment on Dwayne Haskins' if he doesn't start Week 1

Radio host Kevin Sheehan says it would be 'major indictment on Dwayne Haskins' if he doesn't start Week 1

As the Washington Football Team continues to ramp things up in training camp, head coach Ron Rivera has yet to officially name the team's starting quarterback.

However, for Team 980 radio host Kevin Sheehan, there's only one direction the team should go at the position.

"If he doesn't start September 13th against the Eagles, it's a major indictment on Dwayne Haskins," Sheehan said Thursday on Washington Talk & Friends.

In the QB room, there's Haskins, a first-round pick from a year ago that many expect to be the eventual starter. But Washington did trade this offseason for Kyle Allen, who has spent the past two seasons under Rivera and Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner in Carolina.

Earlier this offseason, Rivera said that if there was no normal offseason program due to the coronavirus pandemic, Allen would have a "leg up" on Haskins entering camp. 

Despite all that has transpired the past several months, Sheehan doesn't want the odd, pandemic-riddled offseason to be an excuse as to why Haskins shouldn't be the team's Week 1 starter.

"I don't care what anybody says about the offseason, minicamps and OTAs missing and Kyle Allen getting traded for, [Haskins] has got to be the guy," Sheehan said. 

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Earlier this week, Rivera praised Haskins for how he's handled everything this offseason. He commended the passer for how much of the playbook he's already mastered, albeit that being less than three-quarters of it.

Rivera's ultimate decision for who the team's starter will be isn't just between Haskins and Allen. Besides those two young signal-callers, there's also another QB in the mix: veteran Alex Smith. The 35-year-old is currently on the active PUP list, but has been cleared by his personal doctors to return to football activities.

Smith's journey is remarkable. After nearly losing his leg (and maybe his life) from infections that occurred as a result of the gruesome leg injury he suffered in November of 2018, Smith has worked incredibly hard to return to football. 

Even if Smith does get the clearance from Washington team doctors, Sheehan doesn't envision a scenario where the quarterback takes a meaningful snap for Washington.

"I don't see Alex Smith taking anything other than, if he takes a snap on an NFL field, it'll be ceremonial," Sheehan said. "That's what I'm hoping for, too, but I hope he gets back to where he's cleared and then decides not to play."

RELATED: DOES ALEX SMITH MAKE SENSE AS WASHINGTON'S QUARANTINE QB?

When asked why he thinks Rivera has not come out and named Haskins the starter already, Sheehan explained that the second-year passer may benefit from believing he's in a competition.

On his radio show, Sheehan spoke to former Washington cornerback Shawn Springs, who happens to be one of Haskins' biggest mentors. Springs explained to him that Haskins may benefit from not being given the title of QB1 just yet.

"[Springs] really thinks that it's better if Dwayne perceives he's in a competition," Sheehan said. "Maybe Ron recognizes that, too."

While Haskins may not be the starter just yet, plenty of signs point towards the second-year passer being Washington's Week 1 starting quarterback. And that's exactly why Sheehan and many others in the D.C. area believe he is the best direction for the team to go.

"I think he's fearless," Sheehan said of Haskins. "This thing is not above him, it's not too much for him."

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