Two transformative Redskins who could break out… if healthy
By Jonathan Eig
Defense: LB Reuben Foster
I’ve written in about a half dozen different posts that I don’t think Reuben Foster will play for the Redskins this year. I base that on nothing beyond his injury history.
Foster was in and out of the 49ers lineup his rookie season due to a variety of ailments. His 2018 season was cut short due to multiple behavioral problems involving domestic violence, weapons, and drug offenses. This recalls the run-up to the 2017 draft, in which personality issues at the combine and a positive drug test saw him drop from being a likely top-10 pick to San Francisco at the end of the first round.
The Redskins were the only team that put in a claim for Foster after the 49ers released him. He tore both his ACL and MCL one year ago and missed the entire 2019 season. During his three years in the NFL, Foster has played in 16 games.
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Reuben Foster dropped weight while at Alabama, from around 240 down to around 228 and became a holy terror in the process. Given his combination of mobility and ferocious hitting, Foster could line up either inside or outside, but with the switch to a 4-3 defense this season, Foster could be a truly dominant middle linebacker.
The Redskins do not have a sure bet in the middle right now. He would be somewhat undersized, but he could play at the weight of Mike Singletary, who did not let the fact that he was a few pounds light keep him out of the Hall of Fame. And since Foster has carried more weight all the way back in high school, it is not unreasonable to assume that as he ages into his mid-20s, he could add about 10 pounds and grow into a classic middle linebacker.
If his body holds up.
If a fully healthy Foster lines up behind an interior rotation of Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Caleb Brantley, there’s no telling how effective he could be. He would not be asked to blitz, though he could. He would not be asked to do heavy lifting in pass coverage, though his speed would allow him to drop. He would be asked to take on backs on inside runs, or chase them down on perimeter plays. He would be asked to make tight ends and slot receivers alike fearful of coming across the middle of the field.
A healthy Reuben Foster can do that all day long, and if he does, the Redskins defense goes from being above average to elite.