The next part of the defense that we’ll talk about is the LB corp. which is captained by the future hall of fame ILB London Fletcher. He is a leader, a tackling machine, durable (starting in 240 consecutive games) and a mentor. These young LBs who are trying to find their way, have looked up to the veteran and have learned a great deal from him. They hope to become as good as he is and have such a long and successful career.
One of the LBs that have improved while Fletcher has been here is the underrated ILB Perry Riley. Riley, who has quietly developed into a steady and also consistent LB is also in a contract year. He has something to prove if he’s to get the big money in his second contract. He’s been good but not great and with this possibly being London’s last year, this is a prime opportunity for him to step it up to another level this season and show he can be the captain of the defense in 2014 and beyond like his mentor.
We’ve already spoken about Kerrigan and Orakpo and how dynamic they can be. However, it’s worth noting that the two LBs and a few others from the front seven went to a pass rushing camp this offseason so they could improve upon their current skills and learn better techniques to get to the QB. To me that shows that they want to get better and develop the teamwork that can help propel a playoff team to a championship team.
|Via Bleacher Report|
After the starting group, things get a little bit fuzzy. With the talented, versatile special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander no longer here (Signed with Arizona/FA), now up to one of the young guys to step up and help make this defense a top ranked one. Also one will have to develop into the defensive quarterback of the team since many thought Alexander would be the guy after London’s retirement.
I like the mixture of veteran players to the youth currently on the roster. With all the competition at camp, I’m sure our LBs will also be a strength in the defense this year. We have a young pass rusher in Brandon Jenkins who is coming off a foot injury which may make him a steal for the Redskins. If he didn’t sustain that injury it’s almost certain that he would have been a first round pick instead of falling to the 5th round. He does have to transition from DE (with his hand in the dirt) to the stand-up, pass rushing OLB. But as we’ve seen with Orakpo and Kerrigan it is possible he can flourish. The word out of Redskins Park from DC Jim Haslett in his last press conference before the break was that Jenkins is making progress. Also, the quiet acquisition of LB Darryl Tapp, a pass rush specialist in his own right, will help with the absence of Rob Jackson. Jackson is suspended for the first four games of the season due towards violating the league’s substance abuse policy (he took some medicine from his girlfriend and it had codeine in it and he didn’t have prescription for it) which I feel in his case is a terrible miscarriage of the CBA.
|Via Bleacher Report|
The team has also signed a few undrafted free agents (college players that didn’t get drafted) and the word out of camp is it possible for one of the undrafted players to be signed to the practice squad or possibly the active roster. From watching tape, I love the potential of Will Compton out of Nebraska and Coach Haslett has said that Marvin Burdette has impressed him early. But we will see when training camp starts in a few days.
Next time we’ll take a look at the DBs. Last year, without a good pass rush or LB, the secondary had a lot put on their shoulders. With some new additions and more help from up front can this unit be better than they were in 2012? Find out in my next segment.
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