August 18, 2019

Washington Redskins 2014 Season Preview Part VII: Inside Linebackers

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

In Part I, Neal Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.
In Part II, Eric Hobeck examined the situation at running back.
In Part III, Joe Mercer previewed the wide receiver corps.
In Part IV, Joe Ziegengeist evaluated the offensive line.
In Part V, Joe Mercer reviewed Jordan Reed and the tight ends.
In Part VI, Neil previewed the defensive line.

Here is our preview of the inside linebackers.


Perry Riley comes up with the ball in 2011. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Perry Riley comes up with the ball in 2011. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Washington Redskins Inside Linebackers

SUBTRACTIONS: London Fletcher (retired), Nick Barnett (free agency), Bryan Kehl (free agency), Josh Hull (released)

ADDITIONS: Adam Hayward (free agency), Akeem Jordan (free agency), Darryl Sharpton** (free agency, placed on IR)

STARTERS: Perry Riley (“Jack” Linebacker), Keenan Robinson (“Mike” Linebacker)

BACKUPS: Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Akeem Jordan

Replacing London Fletcher is the biggest storyline for the inside linebackers in 2014 (Photo by Brian Murphy)

Replacing London Fletcher is the biggest storyline for the inside linebackers in 2014 (Photo by Brian Murphy)

Perry Riley: The team’s “jack” linebacker returns after signing a three-year/$13 million contract in the offseason. Riley had an up-and-down year in the final season of his rookie contract in 2013, leading to debate as to whether or not the team would even bring back the 2010 fourth-rounder.

But with many holes, including inside linebacker due to Fletcher’s retirement, the team decided to re-sign Riley just before the start of free agency. He had a strong year in 2012 and looked to be on the rise. But although he led the team in tackles for the first time in his career last season, he seemed to regress a bit as he often struggled in coverage and, like many others, had too many missed tackles.

Riley is still young, only 26, so there’s certainly still time for him to improve and he’ll look to rebound in 2014 with improved tackling and coverage.

Keenan Robinson: When Fletcher announced his plans to retire towards the end of last season, it was immediately clear the Redskins would have a huge hole to fill in the offseason. While the 16-year veteran struggled last year, he was still the heart and soul of the defense and was truly a coach on the field with his knowledge and leadership. With the offseason acquisitions of Hayward, Jordan, and Sharpton, it was not clear initially who would fill the void on the starting defense.

As it turned out, the team decided to go with an in-house option, giving Robinson the first team reps in OTA’s and mini-camp. The third-year player has minimal experience, missing significant time due to pectoral injuries in each of his first two seasons, but when Washington drafted him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, it appeared the team had a long, athletic linebacker that could perhaps take Fletcher’s place eventually.

While injuries may have stunted his development, it appears Robinson is up for the task in year three as he’s looked very good in training camp and preseason with the first-team defense. He will take over Fletcher’s “mike” role and will be responsible for making the calls in the defensive huddle. If he can stay healthy, he could be in line for a major breakout year.

Adam Hayward: After their extremely poor performance last season, improving the special teams units was a huge priority for Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden this offseason. The team went about this by bringing in hard-nosed players who have excelled on special teams in the past.

Enter Hayward who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2007 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and served as the special teams captain for them each of the past three seasons. The Redskins announced the signing of the eight-year veteran to a three-year deal on only the second day of free agency, indicating bringing him in to improve the special teams was a top priority. While he can fill in at inside linebacker, and has done so in the past with the Bucs, his primary duty will be to lead the revamped special teams unit.

Will Compton:  An undrafted rookie last season, Compton spent the majority of the year on the practice squad until getting promoted to the active roster in late December after Barnett was placed on IR. The Redskins did well to develop him and it appears he’s ready to contribute in his second season. Throughout training camp and the preseason, Compton consistently got reps with the second-team defense and can play either linebacker spot.

While he’s not a tremendous athlete, the 25-year-old linebacker appears to make sound tackles and knows the defense. Barring injury to one of the starters, he figures to primarily contribute on special teams in 2014.

Akeem Jordan: A free agent who played for the Kansas City Chiefs last year, Washington brought in Jordan on a one-year deal to provide depth at inside linebacker and further bolster the revamped special teams.

The 28-year-old had spent the first six seasons of his career under Andy Reid (first with the Philadelphia Eagles then Chiefs) before signing with Washington. Jordan is more of just a two-down linebacker because of deficiencies in coverage but he still figures to be a contributor on special teams.

Darryl Sharpton: A 26-year-old free agent coming from the Houston Texans, Sharpton was another one-year signing to provide depth and help on special teams. Unfortunately, the hard-hitting linebacker suffered a serious high-ankle sprain in the preseason and was placed on IR.


Joe Miller is Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. A southern Maryland native, Joe is an alumnus of the University of Maryland with a degree in communication. He’s been a passionate follower of D.C. sports and especially the Redskins his entire life, even watching a Redskins’ Super Bowl victory from his dad’s arms as a baby in 1992. When not watching sports, Joe works at the Bowie Baysox, a minor league baseball team in Prince George’s County, MD and also contributes content for Son of Washington. You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeCoolMiller.

About Joe Miller

Joe Miller is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. Joe is a southern Maryland native and an alumnus of the University of Maryland with a degree in communication. He’s been a passionate follower of D.C. sports, especially the Redskins, his entire life. Joe works for the Bowie Baysox and contributes content for Son of Washington. You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeCoolMiller.

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