When the team drafted Riley in the fourth round last year, it looked like he was going to slide right into the inside linebacker spot that Rocky McIntosh would vacate when he became a free agent this year. But then the lockout happened. After taking a look at him in the first few days of training camp, the Redskins brought back McIntosh and it looks like he will be the starter alongside London Fletcher in the Redskins defense.
"Not having the whole offseason hurts guys like Perry," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "They don't get an opportunity to learn everything so it takes time.”
The Redskins put a lot on their inside backers. “That's probably one of the hardest spots to learn in this defense,” said Haslett. You’re playing the Jack, the Mike, you’re playing strong and weak. There are a lot different combinations.
“One minute you’re playing all the weak hooks the vertical stuff, one minute you’re playing all the three-receiver stuff, all the strong stuff. It takes a while.”
Haslett said not to look for Riley to get any work with the first team any time soon. “Right now we’d probably go with who we have unless something changes.”
This does not necessarily mean that Riley will spend the year playing special teams and getting very limited snaps on defense like he did last year. Look for him in some defensive packages during the early season. McIntosh is on a one-year contract so if Riley progresses he could well move into the starting job by sometime around midseason.