If you ask anyone on the Washington Redskins defense who they look to as a role model, they'll tell you that it's the eight-year undrafted linebacker Mason Foster. While he may not be a captain, he's someone who's led the team in tackles in previous years and his presence is almost always felt on the field and in the classroom.
The Redskins have spent a lot of time this year retooling their defense. From acquiring longtime Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick to drafting Daron Payne with the 13th-overall pick in this year's draft to re-signing Foster's partner at inside linebacker Zach Brown, the organization made a statement that the defensive side of the ball was a priority. But a lot of what makes the Redskins defense so special is the pieces that they've already had in the locker room for an extended period of time.
Foster is the embodiment of what it means to be a player that general managers can build around in a locker room, and when describing his mentality during Monday's press conference, he exemplified that.
"It's a win now [situation]. I think everybody feels that way" he said. "We know what we have to do, we know what we're capable of and we have to keep it going. Guys want to play, guys know what we can do. We got a great offense, we made moves and now it's on us to go out there and execute.
"I love it here," he added. "The fans are great, so just try to keep on building day after day. Keep getting better and do whatever I can to help this team win."
When asked about who he looked up to on the defense, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was quick to mention the University of Washington product.
"Mason [is] one of the guys I look up to and he has, as we like to call, a calming effect when we're in the huddle" he said. "When things are getting crazy everywhere, he's a guy who can come in, rally the troops and keep it going."
Rookie linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton extolled similar praises when asked who he learns from on the defense.
"With Mason, I'm just trying to pick his brain and try to do everything he does" Hamilton said. "He's been in the league for a while and he's the definition of being a real pro. From meetings, to asking questions, to taking what you learn in meetings to the field. He's just so smart. Whenever I can study Mason and ask him questions, that's always good."
The Washington Redskins conducted their tenth day of training camp practice Monday, August 6, 2018 at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
During Monday's 11-on-11 drills, Foster was an early and active participant, even getting a few "atta boys" from head coach Jay Gruden. Throughout practice, the linebacker consistently generates pressure, which has caused Alex Smith to tuck and run on plenty of occasions. The front seven, led by Foster and Brown has been a major challenge for Smith to deal with as he continues to integrate himself into the offense.
From an organizational standpoint, Foster is doing everything necessary to develop the younger guys and make Redskins better. Whether it's 1-on-1 meetings, offseason workouts, or even just spending extra time in the building watching film, Foster is consistently trying to set the example. But if you ask him, he's okay with doing all of those things from behind the curtain.
"You know, it's not about credit or anything like that. I just want to win, honestly," he said. "As far as getting credit or being famous and the face of the defense or something, it doesn't matter to me. I'm happy to be a part of this team and this organization, and I'm just trying to do what I can to help guys be better."