It’s 'conceivable' that new center Brian de la Puente could start Sunday against the Saints, but the Redskins won’t make a final determination until later this week, Coach Jay Gruden said.
De la Puente was signed Tuesday and practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday.
“We’re going to throw it at him and see what he can do, see how much he can pick up,” Gruden said. “But again, like [cornerback Will] Blackmon we wanted to bring in a veteran guy who’s played, made the calls, knows the offense a little bit. He’s got to pick up the terminology, which is going to be hard for him.”
The Redskins added de la Puente, 30, to take the roster spot of Kory Lichtensteiger, who was punt on injured reserve/designated to return because of a nagging neck ailment. Lichtensteiger’s replacement the past three weeks, Josh LeRibeus, has struggled in run blocking and with the location of his shotgun snaps.
[De la Puente is] more of a true center,” Gruden said. “LeRibeus has done fine job in substitution of Kory. The snaps are a little awry; we’re trying to work on it and fix that issue. And Spencer Long has never really played center, either. So we wanted to get a true center in here with Kory’s injury, so that’s why we went out and got a veteran guy like de la Puente, and he’s got to pick it up quickly.”
Added Gruden: “[LeRibeus’] blocking has been pretty good in pass protection. In the run game, he’s had his share of issues there. …But the big thing, the biggest concern is the location of the shotgun snaps. They’re all over the place and we messed up a few snap counts, which gave [the Patriots] their only sack.
“We’re not giving up on Josh, but we just want to have more consistent snaps from the shotgun. It doesn’t say that Josh is going to second team. It doesn’t de la Puente is going to start. We just have to get a guy in here with more proven experience at the center position.”
Asked if there’s a chance de la Puente could start against the Saints, Gruden said, “It’s conceivable, yes.”
Meantime, quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke as though he expects de la Puente to be his center against New Orleans.
"We're not going to be as far down the road this Sunday as we will e three Sundays from now," Cousins said. "It takes time. But I'm really impressed with Brian's recall and how quickly he's picking things up."
De la Puente, who has started previously for New Orleans (2011-13) and the Bears (’14), said he’s fully recovered from the ankle injury that cut short his only season in Chicago. He also conceded that it was getting “frustrating” as he waited for an NFL team to give him a call in recent months but said he never lost faith that his phone would ring, eventually.
Earlier this week, it did. And the San Clemente, Calif., native was brought to Redskins Park on Monday for a tryout.
Asked about his approach to preparing for Sunday, de la Puente said the key is studying the playbook and asking a lot of questions.
“Keeping my head in the playbook, sitting with the coaches, getting with the quarterbacks, talking with the other linemen. ‘What are your tricks? How do you see this,’” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting on the same page as quick as possible. If have to play, I’m going to be prepared as possible.”
Asked if he thinks four days of practice gives him enough time to be fully prepared, he said he thinks it’s possible.
“We’re just going to have to see,” he said. “I just have to keep preparing and I think if they feel comfortable with me, they might let have a shot. But that’s not my call.”
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