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With Recent Injury, Inside Linebackers Have A Big Task Ahead Of Them 

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It’s been a challenging couple of days for linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton and Mason Foster.

Their teammate Reuben Foster, getting his first taste of football action in some time, suffered an injury on the third snap of practice on Monday.

The Redskins organization has been hopeful for his potential impact on the defense in 2019, and his teammates offered up their prayers and are hoping for a speedy recovery.

“We’ve always talked about [injuries] in the locker room, at home, everything,” said Hamilton. “So, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Just hoping for the best. I don’t know how it happened. I just know that he was running and I just heard him yell.”

Hamilton and the rest of the defense were very anxious to have Foster on the field this season, to see what the former first-round pick could provide to an already stout defensive line and improving secondary. His absence for potentially a long stretch had the team disappointed.

“We’ve been talking about it ever since last year when we first got him,” Hamilton said. “I mean you just hate to see things that happen to guys like Rueben, so jolly, always a happy person. That’s all we can do is just pray for him.

“Like I said, that’s the beauty of life, you never know what’s going to happen and that’s why you take advantage of each stage, waking up, sunny outside. So, I mean that’s life. God throws things at us for a reason.”

Hamilton made his defensive debut during Week 11 last season against the Dallas Cowboys, going on to play near 50 percent of the Redskins snaps the final four weeks of the year. The 2018 sixth-round pick now knows he’ll become a major part of the team’s plans at the position.

“I’m feeling good,” said Hamilton. “My body’s feeling good and I’m just happy to be around the team again. I’m definitely comfortable. I mean, a year in the system and just a year being a professional, just learning the ropes and going about how to take care of your body and certain things like that.”

Foster, on the other hand, is the more experienced of the pair, and is entering his ninth season in the league. In his five years with the team he’s seen many changes and improvements, and the veteran is impressed with how Hamilton has improved so far.

“He looks great man,” said Foster. “He had a good intro year last year, you know, he’s been studying really hard and working hard this whole offseason. So, there’s big things ahead of him. We got a glimpse of it last year and it’s going to be exciting to see how he develops into his second year.”

In preparation for this season, Foster has changed a few habits surrounding his training and looks to keep making an impact wherever the team needs him.

“I got a new diet and lost a lot of weight, just working nonstop since January,” said Foster. “Just trying to become a better football player to help this team win. So whatever they need me to do, I’m here to do it and I just wanted to become a little lighter to see how it feels. It’s feeling great so far. I’m excited for the season.”

In the process of moving towards a dominant defense, the Redskins added inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan this offseason. Ryan, a two-time Super Bowl Champion during his tenure with the New England Patriots from 2000-2003, has already received high praise from his players to this point.

“He’s a great dude, man, great coach, great person,” Foster said. “I think what he brings to the room, you know, is energy and his knowledge of the game is showing a lot already. He’s bringing little things that he’s used and it’s big for us. It’s big to have a coach like that who’s been around and seen a lot of football, so I’m just trying to be a sponge and listen to everything he says.”

Without Reuben Foster, the Redskins will rely on both of them to lead things in the middle of the defense, and lean on rookie Cole Holcomb, who has impressed early in OTAs, and the rest of the young defensive members of the draft class.

“Cole looks great, picking up my stuff, asking a lot of questions,” Foster said. “So, I’m excited to work with these guys and, you know, be there for them on and off the field.”

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