Aug 5, 2013; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins inside linebacker Perry Riley (56) participates in position drills during afternoon practice as part of the 2013 NFL training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Will Inside linebacker be a strength for the Redskins?

The Washington Redskins face uncertainty at inside linebacker in 2014.  Long-time team leader London Fletcher has retired, leaving only veteran Perry Riley as the one known commodity at the position.  The Redskins have signed some free agents and have some young players they can look at this offseason, but the question remains of what can be expected at inside linebacker?

Riley has emerged as a solid player over the past few seasons, and more will be expected from him this year.  He’s had over 100 tackles and 3 sacks in both 2012 and 2013, and will be counted upon to provide at least that in 2014.  So what Perry Riley brings to the table won’t be the problem.  The problem will be who will replace London Fletcher at the other ILB spot?

The Redskins signed free agents Darryl Sharpton, Akeem Jordan, and Adam Hayward to provide depth inside.  Each of these players have starting experience, but none have really established themselves as consistent starters up to this point.  And while none will be expected to replace Fletcher as a team leader, at least one of them must step up and become a solid starting player.

The Redskins also have the talented Keenan Robinson, who has an outside chance to move to the top of the depth chart.  But my guess at this point would be that Sharpton has the inside track to start.  And Fletcher struggled at times last season, but his stature with the team more than likely prevented Mike Shanahan from replacing him in the lineup.

However, it not that as though there were many other options to turn to.  But that won’t be the case this season, as the talent is a lot deeper at inside linebacker, and if the starters struggle, I think others will be given a chance to see what they can do.  So from a depth stand point, I think the inside linebacker will be stronger for the Redskins this season than last.


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  • David Dorman

    Riley got killed in passing situations, partly because they had him covering WRs sometimes. I believe because we had no depth at DB last year that left us vulnerable in LBs taking a bigger role in coverage. That’s one of the reasons I wanted us to concentrate in drafting more secondary this year so we wouldn’t have to rely as much on zone coverage. I believe Sharpton will rise to start but on 3rd down don’t be surprised to see Robinson. He is very fast and athletic for a LB.

    • Maurice Barksdale

      Riley struggled some last season, but I think he played a lot better late in the season, so we’ll see if he can continue to improve. And I like Robinson too, but he’s another guy I wish could stay healthy. I think he could be an x-factor, but he needs to prove he can be relied upon.

  • Adam Banig

    I agree we have a lot more depth this season at ILB and I’m gald, it’s about damn time!

    Robinson has been given a lot of time with the starting unit so far in OTAs. He has more knowledge of our defense than Hayward, Jordan or Sharpton.

    It wouldn’t shock me if Robinson ends up being our starter at the beginning of the season, but like you I think one of the vets will emerge as the starter in the beginning of the season and Keenan Robinson will be our 3rd down ILB. Keenan is going to be our best coverage ILB, sown thing Riley struggles with at times.

    If I had to guess right now, my front runner at starting ILB next to Riley is Daryl Sharpton. He’s a really good run defender but struggles in pass coverage some. I think he’ll start and Keenan will play passing downs

    • Maurice Barksdale

      Yes, depth will be the key at inside linebacker. The Redskins didn’t have much depth at all last season, so at least now they will have options if the starters struggle. I’m also hopeful that Robinson can put it together this season and finally live up to his potential.