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Redskins looking to replace leadership of Will Compton, Niles Paul

April 17, 2018 GMT

The departures of linebacker Will Compton and tight end Niles Paul created voids the Redskins will need to fill this season not just on the field,but in the locker room.

Both players were veterans and respected leaders who regularly shared wisdom and advice with teammates.

Compton was vocal in hyping guys up, pushing them in practices and on game-days. Paul, in his six years with the Redskins, was a “warrior” who brought an edge to the team by fighting through injuries, according to teammate Ryan Kerrigan.

But both players left in free agency, with Compton signing with the Tennessee Titans and Paul leaving for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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“Guys are going to have to pick it up,” Kerrigan said. “I’m interested to see kind of, as the weeks progress, who emerges in those roles, but obviously those roles will be ones that need to be filled.”

The Redskins began the first steps in that process Monday when the team’s offseason program started.

Tight end Vernon Davis said the next few months from OTAs to training camp will help sort out the unfamiliarity that comes with each season. The Redskins lost seven players to free agency while signing three new players. They will also add rookies from the NFL Draft later this month.

The team already will have a new leader at quarterback in Alex Smith.

Having spent six seasons with Smith in San Francisco, Davis vouched for the former No. 1 overall pick’s leadership skills. Davis saw Smith grow, from season to season, despite playing for several offensive coordinators and three different head coaches.

“I watched Alex go through so much,” Davis said. “Those two years where we had that roll with [Jim] Harbaugh, where we went to the playoffs, Alex was a big contribution to that. He was a tremendous asset to that team and he was one of the reasons why we catapulted into the playoffs like that and had our debut.”

On defense, the Redskins will look to get contributions from its younger core. Kerrigan said first-rounder Jonathan Allen was “as advertised” and made an impact on the defensive line. He praised the return of linebackers Mason Foster and Zach Brown, and said cornerback Quinton Dunbar will help replace Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller.

The Redskins’ defense started off as a close-knit group last year, hanging out at Josh Norman’s house every Thursday. But as the year went on as the losses piled up not as many players went to Norman’s, linebacker Martrell Spaight said in January. Spaight said he felt the difference when players started trickling out.

Davis said each year comes with an adjustment, chemistry wise.

“It’s going to be a good adjustment, but we have to work through it and make sure we welcome the guys that are here and just grow grow as a unit, grow as a team and just continue to cultivate relationships with one another,” Davis said.

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