Perry Riley Jr.'s position requires lateral movement in space and strength to go against bigger players -- that's why he took this offseason to get his legs in shape for the season.
Playing a position that's required to cover ground across the field, keep up with running backs in open space and thrive in pass coverage, inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. believes keeping his lower body in prime form is the most important aspect of the offseason.
Check out behind the scenes images of linebacker Perry Riley Jr.'s 2015 Photo Shoot.
The six-year veteran says he took about two weeks off following the 2014 regular season before starting up his work again for this season.
"I did a lot of leg work as far as squats, running stadium, stadium jumps, lunges," he said. "I just try to get the lower body as strong as possible because that's the most important part of your body when it comes to going through a twenty game season to get to the Super Bowl. You need your legs to answer for you."
Riley Jr. has been one of the most consistent faces for the Redskins over the years, starting 46 of 48 regular season games over the last three years.
During the 2013 season he paced the defense with 129 tackles along with seven passes defensed and 3.5 sacks.
For his career, the LSU product has accumulated 412 tackles with 23 passes defenses and 9.5 sacks.
This season, Riley Jr. will have a different defensive coordinator in first-year coach Joe Barry.
While there are some differences between the way Barry and former defensive coordinator Jim Haslett want Riley Jr. to play in the scheme, he said there are a lot of similarities too.
"It's pretty much the same. Different terminology," Riley Jr. said. "Different way of getting to it, but my assignments are pretty much the same. We're still running 3-4 so it doesn't change that much for the inside linebackers."
So far, head coach Jay Gruden has been pleased with Riley Jr.'s performance in the system.
"Perry Riley has really done a great job mentally with this new system," Gruden said. "We're asking him to do a few different things, but he's playing with his eyes very well. He's getting himself into position. He can cover anybody out of the backfield, any tight end because he can run. And obviously his presence is felt out there. Perry and Keenan [Robinson] both, the inside backers are doing great."
'Play fast and physical'
Throughout training camp, Riley Jr. has worked behind 6-foot-3, 354-pound nose tackle Terrance Knighton.
One of the best runner stuffers in the NFL, Riley Jr. says Knighton frees him and fellow middle linebacker Keenan Robinson to make more plays in the middle of the defense.
"Oh man, it's been great for us," Riley Jr. said. "Not only him but Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean [Francois] and all the guys we had that were here last year like Chris Baker and Jason Hatcher and all those guys. They're doing a great job at keeping the linebackers free and allowing us to be able to play fast and physical and just get to the ball."