With Kory Lichtensteiger on injured reserve with a designation to be able to return, Josh LeRibeus will continue to start at center for the Redskins—at least for the short term.
The corresponding move to putting Lichtensteiger on IR was signing veteran center Brian de la Puente as a free agent. Although nothing will happen immediately, it’s possible that de la Puente will push LeRibeus for the starting job within a few weeks.
LeRibeus’ blocking has been inconsistent and against the Patriots last Sunday he had some issues with inaccurate shotgun snaps. The rushing game has been unproductive since he came in as a starter three games ago and while it’s not all LeRibeus’ fault, it’s not completely a coincidence either.
Enter de la Puente, who bounced around training camps and practice squads for three years after signing as an undrafted free agent with Scot McCloughan’s 49ers in 2008. He caught on with the Saints and became their regular center in 2011. After starting 44 games there he moved on to the Bears. In 2014 he started six games for them before his season ended early with an ankle injury. His level of play in New Orleans and Chicago didn’t warrant Pro Bowl consideration but he was a solid, competent lineman.
De la Puente is not the young, long-term replacement for Lichtensteiger that the Redskins will be looking for. He is 30, although one could point out that he’s relatively low-mileage 30 since he didn’t have much wear and tear in his early 20’s. But with 50 games as a starter under his belt he could be a good short-term solution, even if it’s only for part of the last half of the season.
It probably would take a few weeks before de la Puente could challenge LeRibeus for the starting job. He has not been with a team this year so it will take him some time to get into football shape. Center is the most complex position on the line so it will take him some time to learn the playbook and the line calls.
But keep an eye out beginning about the Week 13 Monday night game against the Cowboys. If Jay Gruden, Bill Callahan and company are inclined to make a change in the middle of the line, that might be the right time to do it.
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