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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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An almost 20-year run of stability at left tackle is now clearly over for the Redskins

An almost 20-year run of stability at left tackle is now clearly over for the Redskins

Lucky isn't a word that's been attributed to the Redskins much in the 2000s, but when it comes to what they've had at left tackle, the descriptor absolutely works.

Head coaches and quarterbacks, of course, have buzzed in and out of Washington. Supposed long-term answers at other key positions, meanwhile, turned out to be short-term problems. And there's that one time they signed Albert Haynesworth.

Yet at the most important spot on the offensive line, the Burgundy and Gold have been overwhelmingly steady since 2000.

Chris Samuels and Trent Williams are to thank for that.

The Redskins selected Samuels third overall in the 2000 Draft, and from then until the end of the 2009 season, he was their always good, six-time Pro Bowler on the outside.

When an injury forced Samuels to retire, the franchise took Williams fourth overall in the 2010 draft, and from then until the end of the 2019 season, he was their always good (when on the field/not feuding with Bruce Allen), seven-time Pro Bowler on the outside.

So, from 2000 until 2018, the Redskins consistently knew who they'd be lining up at left tackle, and aside from some health hiccups and a couple Williams suspensions, they lined those two guys up at left tackle. Pretty simple.

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Those words do a solid job explaining how lucky they've been, but these numbers do a better one:

  • The Redskins have played 320 regular season games since 2000. Samuels (141) and Williams (119) have combined to start 260 of them. That means the team has gotten Pro Bowl-caliber production at left tackle in 81-percent of their contests over the last 20 years, a number that would be even higher had Williams not sat out 2019.
  • Over those 20 seasons, Samuels (eight times) and Williams (six times) started at least 13 regular season matchups on 14 occasions. Together, Samuels (six times) and Williams (two times) started all 16 regular season matchups on eight occasions.

At this point, you get it. Those two stars held the position down on an almost unprecedented level.

However, that is no longer the norm for the Redskins. They now have to really wonder about something they haven't had to wonder about much at all in the past two decades.

Yes, the same could've mostly been said at this point last year when Williams was in the early stages of his holdout, but even then, there was still some hope that situation could be resolved. This time around, he's gone. 

This time around, the near and far future are a mystery.

While the Redskins feel quite confident about Saahdiq Charles' talent, he's still a 2020 Day 3 pick. He has plenty of supporters and lots of talent, sure, but neither of the two men he'll be trying to replace made it to fifth overall. He was there for Washington at No. 108.

In addition to Charles, Ron Rivera has Cornelius Lucas, a giant 28-year-old veteran who signed in March. Lucas played capably for the Bears in 2019 but has just 16 starts in his six-year career. 

Lastly, there's Geron Christian, a 2018 third-round choice who's played 189 offensive snaps since coming into the league. There's not much else to note about him.

The obvious best-case outcome for the Redskins moving forward is that Charles is able to emerge. Without his trouble at LSU, the 20-year-old would've gone much earlier in the draft. He has the ability to become a dependable starter if he can stay focused in the NFL.

If Charles doesn't deliver, then the team will likely have to go searching for another young option with potential or an older, more established pro. Lucas is more of a rotational piece, while Christian only appears to be an undefined piece. Charles is the one to really monitor.

Sort of like the Packers with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at QB, the Redskins have long been spoiled at left tackle thanks to Samuels and Williams. That era, unfortunately, is now over. As for when the next one starts, well, that's anyone's guess. 

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COVID-19 will impact 2020 NFL season - but Redskins players want to get on the field

COVID-19 will impact 2020 NFL season - but Redskins players want to get on the field

Redskins rookie wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden tested positive for the coronavirus in March. He fully recovered and the virus is not expected to impact his 2020 season in any way.

That might be the only thing coronavirus won’t impact though.

NFL fans, and Redskins fans particularly, need to prepare for a weird, if not tumultuous, 2020 season. The NFL is admirably pushing forward with their 2020 season but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more players, coaches and staffers that test positive for COVID-19.

"We fully well expect that we will have positive cases that arise," NFL chief doctor Allen Sills said earlier this month.

"We think that this disease will remain endemic in society," Sills continued, "it shouldn't be a surprise that new positive cases arise."

Inevitability.

That’s the world the NFL will enter, eventually, when players, coaches and full staffs start to reconvene, none of which is unique to the NFL.

Coronavirus is everywhere. That’s the world. The NFL exists in that world.

Fans got to enjoy free agency and the NFL Draft, but those events largely took place in a virtual world. Little human interaction required.

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Actual football, however, requires significant human interaction.

The truth of inevitability is that eventually there will be more positive tests. For some players, that’s not particularly troubling.

“I really don’t have any concerns. I just want to get back to playing,” Redskins safety Landon Collins said last week.

Still, the focus remains on health and safety, for football players and for the country at large.

"First things first, you definitely want to be safe. But as far as moving forward, I mean I have full faith in our medical staff, so I mean, it’s really what they determine and what the NFL determines is safe for us to move forward," Redskins defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said.

"That’s really all I can think about, it’s just so much for one person to even try to comprehend that it’s not even worth it, you know?"

Allen is right. 

This virus and the international chaos it has created really are incomprehensible. It seems like there are few facts out there but plenty of rumors and noise.

In the football world, however, one thing seems clear. Players want to play.

"I’m definitely hoping to play the season which I think we will," Allen said, "I couldn’t imagine us not playing a season."

In the NFL it seems almost a certainty there will be a season. But with the inevitability of more positive COVID-19 tests, how that season will play out remains a mystery. 

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