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Redskins 2017 Roster Battle: With addition of Zach Brown, increased competition at linebacker

Redskins 2017 Roster Battle: With addition of Zach Brown, increased competition at linebacker

The Redskins go into OTAs with competition for jobs and depth chart position at several spots on the field. Over the next week, Redskins insiders Rich Tandler and J.P. Finlay look at how these competitions stand right now and they each make the case for a potential winner.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end | Nickel cornerback 

Inside linebacker

The contenders: The Redskins signed Zach Brown in free agency to bolster the middle of their defense, and his arrival should do just that. A Pro Bowler last season in Buffalo, Brown made nearly 150 tackles to go with four sacks, an interception and four pass break-ups. Brown didn't sign a one-year, prove-it type deal with the Redskins to sit the bench. He will start, and that means one of Mason Foster or Will Compton will be sent to the bench. Compton re-signed with the team as a restricted free agent, and will be the front runner to start alongside Brown. Why Compton? There are a few reasons, but the biggest one is that Brown has played mostly Will linebacker in his previous stops. That's Foster's position, as Compton mans the Mike linebacker spot. Compton knows the Washington defense, was voted captain in 2016, and is able to get unit into the huddle and make all the calls. Compton and Foster proved a solid duo in the second half of the 2015 season, though 2016 did not produce as much. Compton missed 13 tackles, second most on the team, though he played much of the year with a hurt knee and was forced to miss a game late in the year. Foster played well in 2016, particularly in the season finale against the Giants. He made 17 tackles in that game and was the best Redskins player on the field. Martrell Spaight and Chris Carter will provide depth and play special teams. Su'a Cravens played inside linebacker in 2016, but in 2017, he will play safety, though some play as a dime LB remains would not be a shock. Despite holding 10 picks, the Redskins did not select an inside linebacker during the 2017 Draft, even with Brown, Foster and Compton eligible for free agency in 2018.

And the winner is...

Finlay: Compton has the inside track to start alongside Brown, but Foster will play plenty. Cravens logged nearly 300 snaps as a LB in 2016, and Foster seems likely to gobble those up and more. What will be most interesting to watch is if Brown pushes for the Mike spot in camp. Unlikely, but as he grows as a player he might want to run the defense, especially with another run at free agency in 2018 after he found a down market in 2017. Pro Football Focus ranked Foster as the Redskins best linebacker in 2016 and fourth best defender overall. If he continues to make plays, he could also push Compton at the Mike spot. This battle will likely push into Richmond, but the important thing for fans to remember is that the Redskins play a true 3-4 base defense on only about 30 percent of their snaps. Barring injury, a combination of Compton, Foster and Brown will all play a lot this fall. 

Tandler: I think that the point that JP makes at the end is the most important. All three inside linebackers will play a lot. Don’t forget that Su’a Cravens, who was the nickel linebacker last year, is now a safety. That leaves snaps that will have to be picked up. The issue they have is that while it’s arguable that Compton is the third best player of the three he may be on the field more often than Brown or Foster because of his role as the one who calls the plays. It will be interesting to see if Foster and/or Brown work on calling defenses in training camp. 

I think the coaches like Compton for a lot of reasons but the missed tackles are a big issue. Also, I doubt that all three are around in 2018 so is not only competition for an immediate starting job but for employment next year and beyond. 

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins are underdogs more often than they are favorites in 2017

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Five of the most memorable and wild Redskins upsets from the past 10 years

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Five of the most memorable and wild Redskins upsets from the past 10 years

Upsets get a lot of attention in March, due to the allure of the NCAA Tournament and the non-allure of everyone who loves to talk about how THEY CALLED that upset that YOU DIDN'T.

With that being said, upsets happen every month of the year, and they go down weekly in the NFL. So, how about we look back at some of the Redskins' particularly surprising wins from the past decade?

Here are five of the most memorable. 

5) 2014 - Redskins 27, Eagles 24

The Eagles came into FedEx Field late in 2014 with a 9-5 record needing a win to remain squarely in the playoff hunt. The Redskins, meanwhile, were just 3-11 and had changed quarterbacks a depressing five times.

Yet in this matchup, Robert Griffin III managed the offense well and DeSean Jackson had more than 120 receiving yards against his former team because DeSean Jackson is awesome.

Yes, the 'Skins were outproduced in nearly every major stat category. But Mark Sanchez — sorry, future Redskin great Mark Sanchez — had two costly turnovers and Cody Parkey missed two field goals (Philly fans have probably forgiven him by now), allowing the home team to squeak out a W.

4) 2009 - Redskins 27, Broncos 17

This is one of those random Redskins games you've probably forgotten about because it came in a lost season, but it was still a miraculous victory.

The most iconic play from this one was a Hunter Smith to Mike Sellers TD on a fake field goal — a fake, mind you, that came after a timeout by Jim Zorn because the unit's first fake punt attempt included only 10 players on the field.

Denver was 6-2 but lost Kyle Orton to injury at halftime. Jason Campbell, on the other hand, helped the Burgundy and Gold score more than 17 points for the first time all year.

"We've had a desert experience -- very arid, if you will -- for the last few weeks," Zorn said postgame. "So to be able to come out with a win, you almost don't know how to feel."

The Zorn Era was terrible, but you have to give the dude credit for working "very arid" into an NFL press conference.

3) 2012 - Redskins 40, Saints 32

There was plenty of hype surrounding RG3's debut, but there was no way he was going to lead the Redskins to a win over the Saints... in his debut... in the Superdome... right?

Wrong. Incorrect. Not right.

Griffin found Pierre Garcon early for an 88-yard score and the offense stayed hot all afternoon, outpacing a New Orleans squad that was favored by more than a touchdown. If you want a further reminder of how impressive this effort was, look back at what happened to this franchise in the Superdome this past season. 

2) 2014 - Redskins 20, Cowboys 17

Dallas' six-game winning streak stood no chance against Colt McCoy, as the Texas legend went into the Cowboys' house for a wild Monday Night triumph.

Kai Forbath's field goal sealed it in overtime and Bashaud Breeland dominated Dez Bryant, but McCoy was the star. On the way to his first successful start in close to three seasons, the signal caller went 25 for 30 in the air and found the end zone on the ground, too.

1) 2017 - Redskins 17, Seahawks 14

If someone in your life thinks they can't do something, just pull up the box score or highlights from this contest. They will then realize that nothing is impossible, because the Redskins beating the Seahawks on this Sunday should've been impossible, yet it somehow happened anyway.

Washington went into Seattle's harsh environment down six starters, including three on the O-line, but Kirk Cousins kept things together and found Brian Quick and Josh Doctson for long completions on a harrowing last drive to steal this result. It wasn't quite UMBC over Virginia, but it was absolutely a stunning final nonetheless. 

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Josh Norman's brother players professional football in Washington, seriously

Josh Norman's brother players professional football in Washington, seriously

NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller spoke with Washington Valor defensive back Marrio Norman Thursday at the Nuggets-Wizards matchup at Capital One Arena.

Norman, the older brother of Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, was assigned to the Valor on March 6.

"I'm just excited to come and to add my talents to the team," Norman said.

Although the two brothers will be suiting up in different venues in the Nation's Capital, the younger Norman briefed the former on handling the press in Washington.

In 2018 with the Albany Empire, Norman racked up 58 total tackles and three interceptions.

The Valor's season kicks off on April 26 against the Baltimore Brigade at Royal Farms Arena.

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