Even though the Redskins struggled to generate offense in the second half of Thursday’s preseason opener, two of their draft picks stood out on the defensive side.
After recovering from a season-ending injury at the end of his senior year at Alabama and throughout most of offseason workouts this summer, sixth-round pick Shaun Dion Hamilton worked tirelessly to get back on the field. He made a full recovery to be active during training camp in Richmond, hoping head coach Jay Gruden would give him plenty of opportunities in the preseason.
Thursday, he led the Redskins in tackles with 10.
“After about a few plays, I was settled in and things like that,” Hamilton said. “It was just all about just getting on the field and running around. Like I said, I haven’t played since like last November so I was kind of just itching to get back on the field and get that first piece of contact.”
Being “100 percent” throughout training camp, Hamilton soaked up as much information about the NFL game from veteran linebacker Mason Foster. Asking questions and paying attention to detail helped the six-foot linebacker translate what he learned in the meeting rooms and watching film to the practice sessions at the Bon Secours Training Center, earning the trust of the coaches that allowed him to play for a majority of the second half.
Hamilton reached the Patriots’ ball carrier with ease at Gillette Stadium, claiming six of his total stops on his own. Not only did Foster and the rest of the veterans assist him on the sidelines during his first taste of NFL action, but the defensive coaching staff as well.
“Just my coaches putting me in the right situation,” Hamilton said of what helped him adjust to the NFL style. “Just make plays, things like that. My teammates helping me out.”
When the second half started, those watching couldn’t help but notice rookie defensive lineman Tim Settle. The Virginia Tech product powered through New England’s offensive line to reach put hands on its running backs during the Patriots’ first offensive drive of the third quarter, coming up with two stops that forced them into a fourth down situation twice.
Settle gave the Redskins a chance to get the lead back when they were trailing in the fourth quarter, hopping on top of the football to claim Washington’s first fumble recovery of the preseason. That passion and energy on the field was a major reason Gruden and the personnel staff didn’t want to pass up on him in the draft.
“I like Settle. Settle made some plays over there,” Gruden said. “He did a good job. He played a lot of minutes, too. I think it was kind of a rude awakening for some of these guys when they had to play 15, 16-play drives. I thought he handled it pretty well for his first game.”
Contributing five total tackles, Settle said that he felt comfortable in his first NFL game once he started getting a few reps under his belt. Professional football may be a faster game, but the 6-foot-3 defensive lineman earned high praise from his teammates and coaches making the adjustment so quickly.
While Settle gave valuable minutes to the Redskins, he believes he still has a lot of improving to do as the preseason continues. Despite playing a lot of minutes in the second half, he wants to be in enough physical shape to where he can play even longer.
“I felt pretty good,” Settle said. “Working on conditioning a little bit, you know. When it gets down and dirty, the long drives, you got to be mentally strong. You got to be strong for your team. I felt like I could’ve been stronger in that area, but that’s something I still could work on.”