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Redskins camp countdown: No. 23 DeAngelo Hall

Redskins camp countdown: No. 23 DeAngelo Hall

We’re counting down to the start of training camp here by looking at some numbers that will be keys to the Redskins’ 2014 season.

No. 23—DeAngelo Hall

A little over a year ago it didn’t look like DeAngelo Hall would be a part of the Redskins any more. He had been cut in a salary cap move and it was unclear if they would be able to come to contract terms. But after a few weeks Hall was back, signing a one-year deal that was very team friendly.

This year the team didn’t wait that long to lock up Hall, who they consider to be the key member of their secondary. With second-year player David Amerson starting at one cornerback spot and age a factor at safety, Hall is the rock of the team’s defensive backfield, if only by default.

Takeaways are going to be the key for the Redskins aggressive defensive scheme and that’s what Hall does best. Last year he picked off four passes, returning two of them for touchdowns. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one, brining that one in for a score.

Yes, Hall has some issues in coverage. He is not a lockdown corner but he is better than many fans and analysts give him credit for. His play will go a long way towards determining how well the Redskins’ defense performs this year.

Camp countdown

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Redskins draft countdown: Will some red flags push Alabama LB Reuben Foster to pick No. 17?

Redskins draft countdown: Will some red flags push Alabama LB Reuben Foster to pick No. 17?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 28 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

I am not a scout but I will pass along my observations from watching some game tape of each of the players profiled here.

Rueben Foster

Inside linebacker
Alabama

Height: 6-0
Weight: 229
40-yard dash: 4.72

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

At a rock solid 6-1, 240 pounds with broad shoulders, a trim middle and well-built limbs, Foster offers prototypical size for an inside linebacker role. His greatest attribute, however, is his pure explosiveness. Whether it be his outstanding sideline-to-sideline speed or the impact he generates with his collisions, Foster is a heat-seeking missile hell-bent on destruction. Just as aggressive as he is athletic, Foster attacks would-be blockers in the running game, jolting opponents with a powerful punch that can leave them staggering.

Rob Rang, CBSSports.com

How he fits the Redskins: There have been some fan favorites at inside/middle linebacker for the Redskins over the years, guys like Neal Olkewicz and Kurt Gouveia. London Fletcher was excellent but not feared. The last intimidating linebacker the Redskins had in the middle of their defense was Sam Huff and he was on the back end of his Hall of Fame career by the time he arrived in Washington back in 1964.

Foster could be the next one. He’s a sideline to sideline defender who delivers rattling hits and can rush the passer and cover. The Alabama product could instantly make the Redskins’ defense better.

They currently have Mason Foster and Will Compton as the starters at inside linebacker. Both have their positive attributes but neither is a threat to make multiple Pro Bowl visits. Foster is.

Film review: vs. USC, vs. LSU

Foster is a bit over aggressive at times. On the first play of the second half vs. LSU he came flying in on a blitz and had a open path to the quarterback. But he overran him. Foster did, however, force the QB to step up and one of his teammates got the sack.

On one play against USC his sideline to sideline ability was on display as he tracked the runner on a sweep and at just the right moment exploded and knocked the runner down for a minimal gain. Jonathan Allen got the call on TV but it was Foster who blasted the runner.

And don’t stop the video there. On the next play the showed, Foster recognized something, communicated with the other inside linebacker, and shot into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss.

Played a lot of zone, effective tracking receivers running shallow crossing routes.

The Alabama front was very dominant at times and often kept blocks off Foster. But when linemen did get to them he showed a very good ability to shed them and stay in the play.  

Potential issues: As noted above, Foster is over aggressive at times. He relies on his speed and strength over instincts.

Some consider him to be an injury risk. Foster had rotator cuff surgery after Alabama’s season ended. He didn’t miss a game the last two seasons despite a concussion and a couple of stingers but the concern is that his style of play and unpolished tackling technique make him prone to such issues.

Then there was the incident where he was sent home from the combine after getting into a verbal altercation while waiting for a medical test. His agent sent out a letter to all 32 teams explaining the incident and he made himself available to teams who wanted to ask him questions about it. The consensus is that the confrontation was out of character for Foster.

At least one team drafting before the Redskins do, however, has taken Foster off its draft board.

“He already had immaturity, issues with life skills. This is the same guy,” an evaluator for the team told the MMQB. “We’re not in the market.”

Bottom line: There are two things to look at to see if Foster would be a realistic pick for the Redskins. Will he be there when pick No. 17 comes around? He’s Mike Mayock’s top inside linebacker and many mock drafts have him going in the top 10. But there is talk that some teams are concerned about the injury problems and the combine incident. It could only take a few downgrades to push him down the board to where he would be in the Redskins’ reach.

But if he does fall, will the Redskins have him on their board? Although it would be an exaggeration to think of Foster as fragile, the Redskins just went through the 2016 season with injury problems plaguing Josh Doctson, their top pick from a year ago. They don’t want to go two years in a row with minimal contributions from their first-round pick.

And then there is the fact that the organization just doesn’t seem to value the inside linebacker position very highly. They have not spent a first-round pick there at any time during the common draft era, going back to 1966.

The need for the Redskins defense is more urgent up front; Compton and Mason Foster could be adequate if the line can keep blockers off them. But if there isn’t one worthy of the No. 17 pick, Foster could be a solid option.

In his own words:

No setup needed for this quote, via The MMQB:

“There’s that moment,” Foster says though a smile, “when you first hit somebody and you get chills. You hear the crowd say Ooooh. And before that, when you put on your suit and you transform and you become a dog; you’re a beast. Just seeing all the other guys become a dog with you. No stress.”

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2017 Redskins?

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2017 Redskins?

Jay Gruden set out to dispell the "doom and gloom" that has overtaken many Redskins fans this offseason when he talked to the media earlier this week. To what extent do you agree with the coach that the feeling should be one of optimism and excitement? 

As always, hit the poll and then either reply on Twitter to talk about your answer or come back here and hit the comments.