What's up with Saahdiq Charles? Is competition brewing at left tackle?


There was plenty for Ron Rivera to like about his debut as Washington's head coach last Sunday. To start, his team won, and that's not something to take for granted on a squad that went 3-13 last year. 

Beyond that, the pass rush was lethal and second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed strong leadership and maintained his composure despite a big early deficit. 

To be clear, there was plenty of good stuff to come out of Washington's 27-17 Week 1 win. 

But there was some bad stuff too, and a big part of it was the play on the offensive line, particularly the left side. At left tackle is third-year pro Geron Christian, and then at left guard comes second-year pro Wes Martin. 

Neither played well against the Eagles. 

"When you watch the first quarter and a half, he didn’t play very well," Rivera said of Christian. "Neither did Wes Martin. You watch the rest of the game, and they both bode their necks and stepped up and played much better. I saw the reports about how poorly they played. Well, they didn’t play very well at the beginning of the game. I think it might’ve been jitters. But as we watched them progress and we watched the middle of the second quarter all the way to the rest of the game, they came out and played some pretty good football from that point on."

Rivera doesn't sugarcoat things, and while it's tough at least players know where they stand. 


And it makes sense for the coach to acknowledge the improvement from Christian and Martin, even if it was marginal. It seems likely both players will continue in their starting roles, even if competition could be coming. 

Washington drafted Saahdiq Charles in the fourth round this year with an eye on the left tackle spot. After the draft, Rivera and personnel boss Kyle Smith talked openly about Charles' possible future on the edge and his potential. 

A calf injury forced him to miss a bunch of time during training camp, but Charles is no longer on the injury report and has been a full participant in practice. 

Asked about Charles on Thursday, Rivera didn't say much. 

"He is practicing and he is competing.”

Not much there, but here's what is known: During the tail end of training camp the Washington offense experimented with other options at left guard. There are options there if Martin's struggles continue, including veteran free agent addition Wes Schweitzer or practice squad candidate Josh Garnett. The team could also try rookie Keith Ismael at center and move Chase Roullier to guard, although that seems unlikely at this point. 

At tackle, Charles is the top option, but that could take some time. He's a rookie that got no offseason training and then missed almost all of training camp with an injury. 

Veteran Cornelius Lucas looked rough in camp and the team traded for another veteran tackle in David Sharpe. He could be the next man up if Christian struggles again on Sunday.

Charles might be the long-term future at left tackle, but for Sunday in Arizona, he doesn't seem to be in the plans. 

Rivera said Christian and Martin payed much better. in the second half against the Eagles than early on. For the Washington offense, and for quarterback Dwayne Haskins, those two need to tighten up the left side of the line right away in Arizona. 

Honesty is his policy, and Rivera has been clear that every position is an open competition. Charles might not be ready now, but sooner or later, he should be. Christian knows that, and the only way to keep the rookie off the field is to improve performance.