With London Fletcher retired, many expected the Redskins to target inside linebacker help via the draft and free agency. While the 'Skins added some linebackers in free agency, they were not the type of impact players expected to lead the defense.
The outside linebacker spots look set, with Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo the bookends, and second round pick Trent Murphy and Rob Jackson providing good depth. Inside, Washington has Perry Riley, and beyond that, no sure things. Much talked-about Keenan Robinson could also step in, but since the 6'3", 240 lbs linebacker did not play last season due to injuries, there's no way to know he will be ready.
"I didn't know much about Keenan because he didn't have a lot of tape last year in the games so it was new to me. I just heard a lot about him and he's done a great job," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said after minicamp practice.
Drafted by the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of Texas, Robinson does have the advantage of a few years of familiarity with the Washington defense and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. For his part, Robinson is just trying to work his way back onto the field.
"It's going pretty well, I'm just getting re-acclimated to the scheme, re-acclimated to being on the field with the 10 other guys and flying around," Robinson said
There's no way to tell in June what players will start or log major snaps in September, but Gruden likes what he sees from Robinson.
"He’s continued to know his assignments obviously, and then athletically, sideline-to-sideline you're not going to see a prettier athlete running from sideline-to-sideline," Gruden said of Robinson. "Great athlete, great speed."
The Redskins will need a linebacker to emerge as the fourth starter, and Robinson has the chance to seize that role.
"We don’t have a depth chart right now," he said.
Health will be the key, and the competition of Akeem Jordan, Adam Hayward and Will Compton won't give up the spot without a fight, but Robinson has the chance. It will be an interesting position battle as the Redskins head to Richmond.