Bill Callahan heaped praise on Kory Lichtensteiger recently, saying the 31-year-old enjoyed a strong offseason and appears primed for another year as the Redskins’ starting center.
“He’s had a productive offseason,” said Callahan, who is entering his second season as Washington’s offensive line coach and 18th season as a coach in the NFL. “He’s been the leader. He’s been smart for us.”
Lichtensteiger had an uneven start to the 2015 campaign, then ended up missing 11 regular season games with a pinched nerve in his neck and shoulder. He returned to start the Redskins’ Wild Card loss to the Packers, but that didn’t prevent speculation this offseason that the Redskins might look to upgrade.
Indeed, some draft gurus had the Redskins selecting a center early in April’s draft. That, of course, didn’t happen. There also was some chatter that guard Spencer Long could change positions. Long did receive some reps at center with the second team during the offseason program, but there remains much work before he’d be ready to start.
Center is among the more complex positions in the game, and it’s Lichtensteiger’s experience and football I.Q. that continues to separate him from everyone else, Callahan said. Josh LeRibeus and Austin Reiter are the other centers on the roster.
“[Lichtensteiger] gets us in the right calls, and that’s what you ask of your guy,” Callahan added. “To make sure that, through all of the multiple looks [from the defense] that you’re going to get, that he gets you into the right situation, gets you into the right scheme. Really, he’s like the quarterback of the offensive line on the field.”
Callahan not only seemed to indicate that he’s comfortable with Lichtensteiger starting this season but that he also expects big things from the eighth-year pro in 2016.
“We’re really pleased with his progress,” Callahan said. “He’s done a great job, a tremendous job. He’s a great leader, a good veteran in the room. So we’re fortunate to have him and looking forward to the fall.”