The inside linebacker position is one of the areas on the Redskins where experience isn't really a question heading into this season with the return of veterans Zach Brown and Mason Foster, who return to Greg Manusky's defense this season after re-signing during the winter months.
A longtime member of Washington's coaching staff, inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti is pleased that he can work with two players that have experience playing alongside each other. The health of his starters will always be important, but the Wilmington, Del., native is just excited to see his entire group compete together this season.
"It's good to have some continuity that way we've got some second-year guys in this particular system and playing next to each other even though it was for only six weeks, five weeks, whatever it was," Olivadotti said. "That's always good."
The return of Foster and Brown will play a role in getting the Redskins defensive back on track this season. But there are still pieces outside of the two veterans that Olivadotti has given high praise, including fourth-year veteran Martrell Spaight.
The Arkansas product grown since his rookie season in 2015, and is looking to serve as the primary option for Olivadotti if his starting linebackers come down with the injury bug again. The North Little Rock, Ark., native registered 75 tackles in 15 games last year, and changed his entire perspective on how he chooses what to eat during the offseason in order to further develop his game.
"My body looks like I eat healthy but a lot of time I wasn't really eating healthy," Spaight said. "I actually watched a Netflix [documentary] called 'What The Health' and I watched the ones before and after I watched it. I was like, 'I need to stay away from such and such.' Kind of got away from it. Fast foods, red meat, things like that. I noticed that a lot of food had me feeling a certain way. If I eat a lot of steak my body will feel kind of sluggish and if I eat a lot of dairy the mucus it grows into your body and kind of messes with your brain functioning. So I kind of shied away from that stuff. I've been talking to DJ [Swearinger] for a while, I always watched him from afar, watching him drink a lot of protein shakes and not eating chicken or steak or anything like that. I just took the leap after that point, ever since then I've been feeling great."
"He just needs to make the routine plays which he normally does and then clean up some of the plays that he gives up just because of some inconsistency in his feet and those kinds of things," Olivadotti added. "And that's what we've been working on in this offseason is trying to make him a more efficient player."
Of course, having these options available for Olivadotti is important if injuries arise, but it shouldn't be the sole reason as to why players like Spaight and second-year man Josh Harvey-Clemons could get on the field.
After appearing in relief for most of his rookie season, Harvey-Clemons has already added more to his plate as he took reps with the first-team defense throughout most of Washington's offseason schedule.
"He's a guy that's learning the position, and he tries to do everything that way that you want him to do it," Olivadotti said. "All the experiences that he gets are new experiences for him. At least now in the second year, he's finding new things to screw up, like I always talk about. He's not repeating the same mistakes over and over again. That's a really good thing and he does some really good stuff in parts of the game that's really special."
On Friday, June 15, 2018, the Washington Redskins hosted the Baltimore Ravens for the second annual Rookie Symposium.
While it's important to have depth all across the roster, the inside linebacker position is of even greater value because of how many areas of the game they can impact.
"The unit as a whole had to fight through a lot of different things last year because we had a bunch of people going in and out," Olivadotti said. "We need good production from that unit and that's what this offseason has been about, getting better production out of it."