Over the next few days, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will take a look at three players—one from each unit—who could enjoy a breakout season in 2016. Up today …
Guard Spencer Long
2015 regular season stats: 13 starts, 0 penalties, 0 sacks and 4 QB hits allowed (regular season)
2016 cap number: $763,450
In review: Long’s second NFL campaign did not get off to a promising start. After spending the offseason as the starting right guard, the Redskins shuffled the O-line, and Long got shuffled to the bench.
But due to injuries, the 6 foot 5, 311-pounder got a second chance in Week 4—at left guard. And this time, he seized the opportunity.
Long started the next 13 games and, despite some early growing pains, produced a solid first season as a starter. During the regular season, he missed only one snap and did not allow a sack. (The only sack Long permitted, in fact, came in the playoff loss to the Packers).
Long was also the only Redskins’ O-lineman not to have a penalty called on him.
ProFootballFocus.com ranked the Nebraska product as the No. 28 guard (right or left) out of 82 players who participated in at 25-percent of his team’s snaps. Not too bad for a guy who lost his job in the preseason.
Looking ahead: Long now has to do what all young players in his situation must: keep improving.
It’s expected that he’ll enter the offseason program as the starting left guard. But things could get interesting if Shawn Lauvao, the player he replaced, returns to full health.
Lauvao told reporters last month that he underwent five procedures, including two major surgeries, to clean up ankle and foot injuries. Lauvao also said he expects to be ready for offseason activities.
It’s also possible Long could be moved to center, where there are questions. Veteran Kory Lichtensteiger, who turns 31 in March, had an uneven and injury-plagued 2015. He’s also due to count more than $4 million against the salary cap. Meanwhile, Lichtensteiger’s backup, Josh LeRibeus is due to be a free agent.
Whatever happens to Long, we know this much: He’s a tough, disciplined lineman who proved himself to be a capable starter, which is huge for the Redskins’ depth.
Breakout potential series: