For the second straight week, the Washington Redskins will tap Mason Foster as the team's starting Mike linebacker. In the role, he serves as the leader of the first-team defensive unit.
Coming off a strong 2016 campaign, Mason Foster appears ready to take on the role of Mike linebacker in Greg Manusky's 3-4 defensive scheme for the Washington Redskins.
After starting 13 games last season, Foster has started both preseason games thus far and has been learning the ropes of being the signal caller of the defense. Calling the defense will not be uncharted waters for Foster, as he previously did so during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Nonetheless, there is still a learning curve, notes Manusky.
"From a mental standpoint, he is starting to adjust to it," Manusky said. "But overall he has been doing a great job with communication, a great job stuffing the runs and hitting the holes that we are supposed to hit."
Moving Foster into the Mike linebacker spot is no small request, but for a player who prides himself on his versatility, he seems ready to take on the challenge. The University of Washington product credits Redskins coaches for his adaptability on the field.
"I always prided myself on being a versatile player being able to play both spots," he said. "But, I mean it's a lot on the coaches. [Before] I came here I would always play Mike, then I came here and learned Moe with [Kirk Olivadotti], [Joe Barry] and the rest of the coaches here."
Being able to play both inside linebacker roles undoubtedly makes things easier for the defensive coaching staff, but Foster noted that it helps his individual play as well.
"You just got to be a sponge, learn it all," Foster said.
Check out behind the scenes images from Linebacker, Mason Foster's 2017 Redskins Photo Shoot
Foster has been sharing the inside linebacker duties with newcomer Zach Brown, who signed a one-year deal with the Redskins this offseason after a Pro Bowl season in Buffalo last year. Together, Foster and Brown expect to lead a deep and talented linebacker crew that could be the best in the NFC East.
"[Brown] brings special attributes to our group with his speed and his range. He can definitely make up for a lot of mistakes and he has great instincts," Foster said of his fellow linebacker. "It's exciting to have a group that's talented like this, that's willing to help each other out and I'm loving it right now."
Foster projects to be the preeminent run-stopper of the group, which is simply more of the same for him. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, the sturdy linebacker has made a living off of taking down opposing ball carriers over the past six seasons.
While he might be known more for his ability to slow down the running game, Manusky has praised the performance in coverage this preseason of both Foster and Brown.
Foster seems to be having little issue juggling his new role with his execution on the field so far.
"You know, Mason played well last year. He really did," said head coach Jay Gruden. "We like his physicality. He's healthy, and he's playing well."