After taking over the starting role at inside linebacker midway through the season, Will Compton's season was cut short with a foot injury. He now faces an uncertain future as a free agent.
Throughout training camp, the mystery around who would start at inside linebacker was a pervasive topic. With newcomer Zach Brown joining last year's starters in Mason Foster and Will Compton, the competition for two spots fluctuated. Ultimately, and unfortunately, the debate lost most of its meaning halfway through the season.
Foster, who won the starting role out of camp, separated his shoulder against the Rams in Week 2, and managed to play through the pain over the next several games before the team placed him on Injured Reserve. Compton stepped in against the Cowboys in late October and two games later was placed on Injured Reserve with a Lisfranc sprain he suffered against the Vikings.
The designation Compton understood, as the Redskins had continual depth issues at offensive line and couldn't afford to hold up a roster spot in the hopes he might return in several weeks. Compton didn't need surgery for the sprain and said at the end of the season that it remained sore but should be healed soon.
"I'm sure I would've been able to play these last couple weeks, but with a foot injury you never know," Compton said. "Again, if they would've been aggressive with it, I would be feeling fine right now, but we've made the decision and we've just been slow about it."
Compton mostly played on special teams throughout the first half of the season, occasionally filling in at linebacker until he took on starting duties. In three games playing the majority of snaps at inside linebacker, Compton collected 17 tackles, three passes defensed and an interception, which came against the Seahawks in his most impressive performance of the year.
The amount of injuries, especially at linebacker, ultimately dismantled a promising season, something Compton attributed to bad luck and the nature of football.
"We fought the bug a little bit," Compton said. "At one time, we had a completely different O-line out there, but it was unfortunate for us this year. We wish we would have everybody healthy, because this team is pretty damn good when we are healthy.
"When we lost – I think it was to the Saints, or whenever we were finally out of it – we should've never been in that situation," Compton added. "We'll bounce back. Everybody's going to have a plan this offseason. We have a hell of a team, but this year overall, it was definitely disappointing."
The feeling of missing the final seven games of the season still stings Compton. The linebacker had missed just one game the previous threeyears, but watching games on television and attending a couple at FedExField helped put things into greater perspective for him.
"Like anybody else on IR, not fun," Compton said. "You wish you could be out there contributing with your guys. It's the nature of the beast sometimes. Finally getting out there, and just like that it can be taken away from you. It sucked, but at the same time, you've got to see it for what it is and figure out your next move."
That next move is uncertain. Compton is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career and isn't exactly sure how the Redskins see him fitting into their plans. He'd like the Redskins to bring back as many core defensive players as possible and continue what it started building at the beginning of the year.
"I want to be back," Compton said. "I feel good about everything, though. I've had a couple good conversations with a couple people. We'll see how it all unfolds."