Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin next Tuesday, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Offensive line to-do list
Tandler: Almost 100 percent of the OTA to-do list on the offensive line will focus on 40 percent of the positions. The tackle spots are set Trent Williams and Morgan Moses and right guard is good to go with Brandon Scherff.
But there are three players vying for each of the other two starting jobs and OTAs will be the start of the competition. Center is wide open for Spencer Long or Josh LeRibeus to take from Kory Lichtensteiger. But if they are going to challenge Long and LeRibeus must master the fundamental process of getting an accurate shotgun snap back to the quarterback 100 percent of the time. Some OTA time will be logged mastering that skill.
For Long, however, the more he works on snaps the less time he can dedicate to holding on to his job at left guard. It seems unlikely that Shawn Lauvao, who was injured in Week 3 last year, handing the job to Long, will be healthy enough to participate. But Long will have to fend off Arie Kouandjio as well. The competition will start in OTAs and likely will last into training camp.
El-Bashir: As Tandler said, three-fifths of the O-line has got nothing to worry about. Well, other than polishing their technique and getting better at their craft.
As for center and left guard...we’ll get a glimpse of the pecking order at those positions on Wednesday, when the Redskins open practice to reporters for the first time this offseason.
Long indeed showed solid and steady improvement after being pressed into the starting lineup by Lauvao’s season-ending injury in Week 3. But Lauvao was playing well when he got hurt, and the 28-year-old has a few million reasons to fight for his job. The question is when will Lauvao be healthy enough to do that? The last time Coach Jay Gruden addressed the issue (way back in late March), he said the hope was that Lauvao would be full-go by June’s minicamp (at the earliest) and training camp (at the latest).
At center, I don’t see Lichtensteiger being easily pushed aside. After all, there’s a reason he was immediately reinstalled as the postseason starter after being sidelined for much of the regular season— he’s the best option on the roster. And the roster hasn’t changed much at his position.
A couple more questions worth pondering: can Arie Kouandjio enter the fray at left guard? And who will replace Tom Compton? Takoby Cofield? Answers to those questions—and more—will come into sharper focus over the coming four weeks.