Mason Foster became the target of many fans’ ire in 2018 when the Redskins’ defense faltered down the stretch. There were struggles in coverage that had multiple origins, including a heavy workload in the first eight weeks that took a toll on his legs late in the season.

A changing of the guard seemed to be the plan for 2019 with the addition of Reuben Foster and ascension of second-year linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, but then Foster went down three snaps into his first OTA. Now Mason Foster is back where 2018 ended, starting alongside Hamilton.

A visibly svelte Foster, who lost 15 pounds thanks to a new diet, has been on the field for spring practices. He went to Tampa to work with his trainer and started a meal prep with his sister. The new regimen includes lots of fish, taco salads with ground turkey, only drinking water and no eating after 6:30 p.m. Foster’s now between 235 and 238 pounds.

“It was cool, man, I started feeling the difference right away,” he said. “Trying to be healthier. I wanted to be in the best shape. I wanted to be able to really run. I’ve played at different weights, but figured I’d just get real light. I was riding my bike and it just felt good. Especially on your joints and your feet. It felt a lot better and just stayed with the diet.”

The Redskins’ depth took a hit with Reuben Foster’s injury, so 2013 second-round pick Jon Bostic was signed and has been in the second-team rotation with Josh Harvey-Clemons and fifth-round pick Cole Holcomb. The group also has some new juice with Rob Ryan now running the inside linebackers.

“Some of the little tweaks and caveats that he has to help you be a better linebacker is big,” Foster said. “I feel it already. Little things with your eyes and the way you take on certain blocks. I can’t wait to get the pads on and really put some of these new tools to work.”

Ryan is quick to point out the Redskins were one of the best defenses in the league in 2018 before injuries and absolutely expects to get back there.

“That’s the biggest thing, try to get a lot of work done here mentally,” Ryan said. “There’s a ton of improvement to do. Our zone, we’ve been chasing guys all over the place when they shouldn’t be. But it’s going to be good and it’s a place where you can correct mistakes.”

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