After finishing No. 1 and 3 on the Redskins in preseason tackles, middle linebackers Martrell Spaight and Terrance Plummer now wait to see if they made the team's final roster.*
Throughout their college careers, Martrell Spaight and Terrance Plummer showed they had the ability to be tackling machines from the middle linebacker position, but neither knew exactly how that would translate into their NFL careers.
On Wednesday, following the conclusion of the Washington Redskins' 17-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedExField, the pair of rookies unofficially finished their first preseasons No. 1 and 3 on the team in total tackles for the four-game slate.
Now all Spaight and Plummer can do is wait and see if their performances merited a spot on the Redskins' final 53-man roster, as the team has a 4 p.m. Saturday deadline to make their final cuts for the regular season.
"First things first, I know I gave it my all in everything that I did," Spaight said after the game. "And at the end of the day, whatever happens, happens."
Spaight, who had a team-high-tying six tackles Thursday vs. the Jaguars to finish his preseason with a Redskins-best 19 stops, was thrust into a larger role both on the Redskins' second-team defense and on special teams when veteran Adam Hayward went down with a season-ending ACL injury Aug. 20 against the Detroit Lions.
Spaight, a fifth-round (141st-overall) pick of the Redskins in May's NFL Draft, said he already knew his path to the Redskins' roster would be through his special teams play, but knew he had to step his game up when Hayward suffered his injury.
"Throughout college and everything, I was always the next man up so I was kind of prepared for it," said Spaight, an Arkansas product. "[Hayward] taught me the rules about everything, what to watch out for, how to do certain techniques. He really coached me on how to be a better special teams player and Coach believed in me and everything I've been doing on special teams and I just try to go out there and keep my job."
Plummer, meanwhile, didn't have the luxury of coming in as a Redskins draft pick. After racking up 344 career tackles at Central Florida from 2011-14, Plummer had to settle with signing with Washington as a college free agent on May 7.
He showed off his consistency to the coaching staff throughout the offseason workout program and into minicamp and training camp, and carried it over into the preseason, as he finished with 12 tackles and trailed only Spaight and outside linebacker Preston Smith (13) for the team lead.
"It felt good man – and that's the key, it's on film," Plummer said. "So 31 other teams get to see it, and of course the Redskins get to see it, so hopefully somebody fell in love with me this preseason."
Plummer said he enjoyed developing this offseason and preseason under Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry, whose motor is always going.
"Coach Joe B demands a lot out of us, as he should," Plummer said. "This is a business and we had a lot of injuries in this preseason. He needed one of us to step up and I think I answered the bell when he asked me to and to play with my all."
As the clock ticks down to 4 p.m. Saturday, both Spaight and Plummer say they feel satisfied with their effort as they try to find their way as playmakers in the NFL.
"Whether it's practice squad, get released, or make the 53, whatever happens, I know I gave it my all," Spaight said. "And I'm just prepared for the next obstacle."
Plummer said his theme over the next couple days will be "just relax."
"'Cause if I am here for the next week, we got the Miami Dolphins coming up," Plummer said of the Redskins' Week 1 opponent at FedExField. "I try not to stress. I don't control anything, and I like to control the playing field, and that's over with for right now, and that's up to the guys upstairs. That's how I try to handle it, be relaxed, be stress-free, and always be thankful."