Though it can sometimes be muffled by crowd noise or distance, there's one thing you can guarantee will happen on a majority of the Redskins defensive plays. If Jon Bostic is in the huddle, his voice will be heard.
“That’s how I’ve always been. When I’m on the field, the thing about me is that I'm always talking, I’m always communicating," Bostic said. "People always tell me I never shut up.”
Even if once and awhile people may mention that he talks a lot, it's usually mentioned as a positive. Though he's only been a member of the Redskins for a few months now, the 28-year-old linebacker's vocalness has been a welcome addition to the huddle.
"Bostic is such a great communicator. We didn’t really know that until we got him here," head coach Jay Gruden said. "How he communicates with the linebackers, and the secondary. He makes it easy for everybody that plays with him.”
Bostic's ability to be a voice on the defense is crucial, specifically for his position group. Just a few months prior at OTAs and minicamp, the linebacking core had some veteran, experienced members in Rueben Foster and Mason Foster. That's no longer the case
A season-ending injury to Rueben Foster and the release of Mason Foster has things looking a lot different in the middle of the defense. With the veteran and familiar players out of the picture, it's about new faces stepping up.
Bostic is part of that group, and seems to have embraced the challenge so far. The six-year veteran has bounced around the league, but looks comfortable with the Redskins. He's impressed since he signed following Foster's injury, and has worked his way into earning first-team reps.
Alongside Bostic will most likely be Shaun Dion Hamilton. The second-year pro came on strong toward the end of the 2018 season, and with a shakeup in the roster he's primed to take on a bigger role during his sophomore campaign. Initially slowed down by some injuries in the preseason, he's back on the practice field, which has the likes of Bostic incredibly excited.
“It’s big," Bostic said about getting the opportunity to take reps with Dion Hamilton. "Another guy that’s smart, has played football.”
While both Bostic and Dion Hamilton are both talented individuals, the success in the middle of the defense will only come if the two mesh together. The two have some familiarity due to playing in similar systems in college, but their time on the field together has been limited to a smaller sample size.
So throughout the remainder of the preseason, a primary goal is to get more comfortable alongside one another. A task that could require Bostic to keep his lips sealed at times.
“When I’m out there, sometimes I’ll be quiet. Like at practice I’ll be quiet because I want to learn the guys next to me," Bostic said. "I want to learn how he thinks. I think that’s important, especially for me.”
Talking or listening, communication will play a big part in preparing the linebacking group for the chaos that is a snap in the NFL. The intensity that comes with each down is something rookie linebacker Cole Holcomb, another new face with new responsibilities, has quickly picked up during his first taste of pro action.
“You gotta be fast. You’re thinking out loud," Holcomb said. “Just talking about what you’re seeing, and together we'll create a picture.”
The picture is slowly starting to come together for the fifth-round pick. Continuing to pick up new things as he goes along and keeping his head buried in the playbook and tape, he's been able to make the difficult transition less of a bumpy ride.
“Cole is very smart, that’s part of the reason why we were attracted to him in the draft," Gruden said. "He’s a very, very smart player. Instinctual player. He’s picked it up very smoothly, very effortlessly.”
In addition to studying on his own, Holcomb is another member of the linebacking corps that has made communicating a major priority. Constantly talking and listening to all the voices he can, including Bostic and Dion Hamilton, things have started to slow down.
For a position group clouded with some question marks and uncertainty, all members are in the midst of their own personal learning experiences. Conquering those will be important, but it starts with building off one another through something as simple as talking.
At the end of the day, they're all in this together.
“We gotta grow together, keep growing together as a defense," Bostic said. "We gotta keep learning each other, we gotta keep understanding the defense. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.”
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