The Washington Redskins on Sunday announced their three captains for the 2018 season. While head coach Jay Gruden mentioned that captains may rotate or be added depending on certain games, here's a look at the team leaders before the season opener.
Quarterback Alex Smith
The Redskins traded for Smith in the offseason to take over the offense after throwing for more than 4,000 yards with the Chiefs last year. The 14-year veteran certainly has experience on his side and has garnered the respect of his teammates in the locker room, his coaching staff and the front office in a short amount of time.
"It's been positive. There's been nothing negative, obviously, so he's just a quality teammate," head coach Jay Gruden said. "He's a veteran guy that brings veteran leadership naturally that comes natural to him. It's nothing that is forced by him. The players all respond to him. He communicates well with the rookie free agents equally as well as he does with the veteran players on this football team. So, a very [good] guy, easy to like, very well likable guy, easy to like, easy to play with and a very good, obviously, leader and teammate."
Teammates have noticed from the start of training camp that he's brought a different presence to the huddle and to interactions after plays conclude. Smith is a quiet encourager, always eager to praise and dissect plays after they happen, instilling confidence into those around him.
"I think a lot gets made up of leadership in this league, especially with quarterbacks, and I think leadership isn't just giving speeches and being loud and talking a lot," Smith said. "That's not my definition of a leader. And, you know what, I think everybody has got it in them and everybody has a different style. I'm not just talking about quarterbacks, every guy in that huddle and I think it's really just being yourself. I know guys respect work ethic and they respect the guys that are invested and committed, and for me, it's really just doing that, right? Putting in the time, being myself, getting to know these guys. I think everybody is doing that. That's the same around the league. There's so much turnover year-to-year. Really this time of year, you have got to break those things down, get to know each other."
Linebacker Mason Foster
Foster exemplifies the kind of player that a front office can build around in a locker room. Entering his eighth year in the league, the undrafted inside linebacker has been a positive and cohesive presence on the defense since joining the team in 2015.
The University of Washington product consistently sets the right tone and example for the linebackers in the room and has an infectious energy that ripples out to other position groups. Foster has never been the splashy name within the organization, but his dedicated work ethic and vocal manner has proven his leadership time and again.
"I feel like he's a guy who might not get a lot of credit outside of here," defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. "But if you cover us, and you watch us, and you're inside the team - I mean Mason's – 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, when things are getting crazy everywhere, he's a guy who can come and rally the troops and keep it going. So, I feel like Mason Foster's that guy."
Safety Deshazor Everett
Despite the fact that Everett has primarily been a backup at safety, he's consistently proven to be an immensely valuable special teams player.
That's how Everett made his bones early in his career and it's how he continues to shine as one of the veterans on the unit. The winner of the Redskins' special team's award at this year's Welcome Home Luncheon, Everett is happy to take the torch from tight end Niles Paul and take ownership of the group.
"I had to step up," Everett said. "Special teams, that's a big part of my game. That's the only way I'm still here. That's how I continue playing in the league regardless if I'm a starter or not. Until I am a starter, I know I'm going to be on special teams. Even when I am starting, I'm pretty sure I'll be on a couple of special teams. That's part of the game. I feel like it's one of the hardest parts of the game because you might transform from defense to offense all in the same place."