Two Months Ago, Jon Bostic Was A Free Agent. Now He's Making Calls For The Starting Defense

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Linebacker Jon Bostic does not pay much mind to his rapid rise over the past few months.

He does not dwell over the Pittsburgh Steelers releasing him following the 2019 NFL Draft, nor does he relish in making defensive calls shortly after Washington signed him on May 22. And he certainly does not gloat about his current role, which includes taking first-team practice reps alongside Shaun Dion Hamilton to start training camp.

“We have to keep taking steps as a defense,” Bostic told reporters following Day 1 of training camp Thursday. “That’s really all that matters.”

Still, from an outsider’s perspective, Bostic’s emergence serves as an intriguing storyline as the Redskins progress through workouts in Richmond.

Two months ago, he was a player without an NFL home. Now, following the release of veteran Mason Foster, Bostic is the one in charge of commanding the starting defense in Washington.

“You can tell, very smart guy,” Hamilton said of Bostic. “He’s physical, tough, everything you want in a football player. He’s playing good over there for sure.”

The addition of Bostic was initially seen as a response to Reuben Foster’s season-ending injury during the first day of OTAs. The team announced the signing of Bostic in the same release announcing Foster’s move to IR.

Bostic, a former second-round pick out of Florida in 2013, has played for five franchises over his first six NFL seasons. He spent his first three years in Chicago, then for the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts. Last season, he started 14 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Bostic played alongside rookie Cole Holcomb with the second team throughout this year's OTAs and minicamp, catching the attention of his teammates and coaches for various reasons.

Holcomb called his veteran counterpart a “great football mind” with elite communication and anticipation skills, while Ryan Kerrigan touched on Bostic’s veteran savvy. “He’s real sudden with his movements and gets where he needs to be efficiently,” Kerrigan said.

But more than anything, those around the Washington organization were impressed with his extensive knowledge of the Redskins defense over a short period of time.

“A lot of guys were surprised that I was able to come in and do that as fast as I can, but understand I played in this defense before,” Bostic said about making defensive calls in his first Redskins practice. “I was in Indianapolis with Chuck Pagano, and this defense came back in Baltimore. You have to understand how that coaching tree works.”

Despite a promising offseason, Bostic was not projected to enter training camp as the starter. Hamilton, in his second season out of Alabama, assumed that responsibility along with veteran Mason Foster, the team’s leading tackler a season ago. That supposed depth chart changed Tuesday when the team announced the release of Foster the day before players reported to Richmond for camp.

The unexpected roster move thrust Bostic into the first-team defense with Hamilton, and the two have worked closely together over the first four days of practice. 

Bostic said Hamilton reminds him of himself with his speed and attention to detail. He also highlighted Hamilton’s communication skills, some of which could be attributed to the linebacker he’s currently playing with.

“He’s a guy where you’ll be able to hear what he’s calling from the sideline because he’s so vocal,” Hamilton said of Bostic. “He’s a good dude, a good leader and a good teammate also.”

Take a look at the photos from the fourth day of 2019 training camp in Richmond, Va.

Making defensive calls does not bother Bostic, who simply responded with “football is football” when asked about the added responsibility Thursday.

Bostic is more concerned with playing fast and smart. He refers to himself as a thinker on the field, approaching the game as if he were playing chess. He’s also thankful to play in a defense that gives its linebackers the freedom to recalibrate based on an opponent’s move. “That’s football to me,” Bostic said, “and I love that side of football because that’s the brain side of it.”

He’s now in the process of communicating this plethora of information to his fellow linebackers, hoping they can make the same strides he has since arriving in Washington.

“We feel really good about the youth that we have at linebacker,” head coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday when asked about Foster’s sudden release. “Adding [Jon] Bostic helped out a lot, but we also have Shaun Dion [Hamilton], Josh Harvey-Clemons, Cole Holcomb, who we thought had an excellent OTA session. Marquis Flowers showed great athletic ability and speed. We got BJ Blunt as a free agent we liked from McNeese State. So we feel good about the linebacker depth we have right now."

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