Redskins linebacker Martrell Spaight has encountered concussion issues for a second straight season, but he remains optimistic about his 2016 campaign and will return to a full practice load on Friday.
For Martrell Spaight, the beginning of this 2016 season is déjà vu. Unfortunately, that's not a good thing, but the young linebacker who is constantly smiling remains upbeat.
After playing just nine snaps in 2015 due to a concussion that landed him on Injured Reserve, Spaight was in on 15 snaps in this season's opener against Pittsburgh before missing Washington's Week 2 loss against Dallas with a concussion once again.
"It's very frustrating," Spaight said after being a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. "Just being out for that significant amount of time last year and going through the same problems again, it's always frustrating but just keeping the faith that everything is going to be alright and that it will pan out to my favor. Just going out every day, just trying to get better and preparing as if everything is alright."
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Thursday that Spaight has passed the concussion protocol and will be a full participant on Friday, the last practice before Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
The Redskins have had high hopes for Spaight, with head coach Jay Gruden saying in the preseason that, "he's going to get plenty of playing time."
Spaight – a fifth-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft – starred at Arkansas as an undersized linebacker with a knack for making plays. In his senior season, Spaight was a first team All-SEC selection with a conference-leading 128 tackles. He was the first Razorback to ever lead the SEC in that category.
Although he's yet to play much in the regular season, Spaight has been the Redskins preseason leader in tackles each of his first two years. Despite his lack of regular season reps, Spaight had impressed the coaching staff with his ability to run the defense from the middle linebacker spot.
"To be able to go start a game, run the huddle, run the defense, play the entire half, play like he did, kind of drive the bus, I was very happy," defensive coordinator Joe Barry said after Spaight's start in the second preseason game against the New York Jets.
With all of the time that he has spent on the sidelines, Spaight has begun to master putting himself in game situations mentally.
"I'm always in the film room still learning, out there on the field still learning," Spaight said. "Even though I wasn't really able to participate in the team drills, I'm still getting the mental reps."
Spaight hasn't lost a step yet, he says. Now it's just a matter of when he'll be able to show off his ability.
As a vocal leader before and during the game along with the potential to help both the defense and special teams units, it's likely the Redskins are just as excited as Spaight to get him back on the field.