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Martrell Spaight Learning To Be Better Vocal Leader


After being thrust into a role calling plays for the first-team defense in a recent practice, rookie linebacker Martrell Spaight said he learned the importance of proper communication.*

Linebacker Martrell Spaight thrusted his hands into the Lev Sled during Tuesday's practice. Drenched in sweat, he managed to stand the sled up vertically with a single explosion.


"Good job Spaight, good job,"* linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti said, reassuringly.

Spaight entered the session having filled in for an injured middle linebacker rotation the day before. Both Keenan Robinson and Will Compton did not participate, leaving the rookie Spaight to fill the void on the first-team defense.

He had good plays; he had bad ones, too. But, it was his first missed assignment that "flipped the switch." It allowed him to put that play behind him and focus on being a vocal leader. He knows he needs to be ready if his name is called again.

Until then, every moment for him is a learning step for the former Arkansas defensive captain. In fact, all of those steps retrace back to being a vocal leader.

Spaight made his presence known at Arkansas, but when he attended Coffeyville Junior College his freshman and sophomore year, he was far from vocal. Still, his teammates looked to him for guidance.

"They really put me to it, and sometimes I didn't want to do it," Spaight said. "But big things come with great responsibility."

Check out images of rookie linebacker Martrell Spaight during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.

That's when he started to grow.

These experiences all funneled into Monday's practice, as Spaight found himself as the primary playcaller for the Redskins' starting defensive unit.

During team drills, Spaight got speared in the chest by fullback Darrel Young's helmet on a halfback lead play. It knocked the wind out of him, but he tried to "play it cool." That play was a reminder to never lose his breath before the play when he makes the calls, and to always demonstrate strength after the whistle.

As for Tuesday, Spaight got the nod from Olivadotti after nearly toppling the sled. Usually, he gets more along the lines of, *"Shoot your hips man, shoot your hips." * So to Olivadotti, Spaight's "coming along" with each day.

"He's a football junkie, I know that," Olivadotti said. "He works hard at it, he loves it and I'm happy where he's at right now."

Spaight said he "gets his butt chewed out" by the coaches when he is not vocal. Monday's practice showed him why it is imperative to be. Those small mistakes may cost the team in a big way.

"If I don't make the checks or calls, we're in trouble," Spaight said. "[The coaches] push me to go out there and make vocal calls. They expect you to go out there, be the vocal leader of the defensive. [Monday] allowed me to know I'm a leader on the defense."


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