A rookie linebacker who can lay the lumber on any given play, Martrell Spaight feels he's grown exponentially since being drafted. Sunday will give him his first true test.
Martrell Spaight knew his chances of making the Redskins' 53-man roster were strong, but that still didn't calm his nerves Saturday as he waited to learn his fate.
Check out images of rookie linebacker Martrell Spaight during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.
"I just watched a lot of movies," Spaight told Redskins.com. "I stayed in the hotel room and just watched movies and tried to ease my mind as much as possible. I know I gave it my all so at the end of the day I know I gave it my all and there was nothing more I could have done, so that helped me ease my mind."
Spaight never got the call to come to Redskins Park to hand in his playbook. Instead, he made the roster as a fifth-round pick.
"It was definitely a great feeling finding out that news," he said. "Just happy to be on the squad and now the main focus is preparing for the Miami Dolphins."
Listed as one of the team's second-team inside linebackers, Spaight may see some action on defense this season.
But expect him to make an impact on special teams in his first season in Washington.
"That's a big thing; big emphasis for me is on special teams," Spaight said. "I know that's going to be my key point right here. Trying to do what I can to help the team out. So I just got to execute my job on special teams and try to make plays."
Spaight could even fill in for the role Adam Hayward played last season. A special teams captain and committed member of the unit, Hayward recorded 13 special teams tackles before suffering a season-ending injury against the San Francisco 49ers.
Out once again this season, Spaight said it "was definitely tough" to see his veteran teammate Hayward go down, but knows it is now his time to prove his worth.
"He always told all the linebackers good things to help us and things that we should stay away from," Spaight said. "He's just been a helpful guy for me since I've been here from Day 1 and just to see him go down was heartbreaking, but I know he's in great spirits and he keeps lifting us up in everything that we do. I'm really thankful to have Hayward in that corner."
As he approaches his first career regular season game Sunday against the Dolphins at FedExField, Spaight, looking back from the time he was drafted until now, believes he's "dramatically" improved.
"I see things I'm doing now that I have never done before," he said. "I use my hands on offensive lineman, just learning things from the veteran linebackers that have taught me so much since I've been here. I see every day I'm just getting better at something and I think that's the key just getting better at something every single day. I feel like my growth has been great being here so far and I just prepare to keep going forward."
Whenever Spaight is on the field, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden expects a big pop to follow.
"He likes to hit, you can see that," Gruden said of Spaight. "He doesn't back down from any contact. He'll be a player to be reckoned with. I promise you that."