Ty Nsekhe has mostly been in the shadows since entering the league as a college free agent in 2012.
The 31-year-old is about to step into the spotlight as the starter at one of the most important positions on the field. Nsekhe will be the man at left tackle while Trent Williams serves a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
He has been with four different organizations, spending some time on the practice squad and he played in a couple of games for the Rams in 2012, but most of his time has been spent trying out for teams. The Texas State product made the Redskins' 53-man roster last year.
He has filled in for Trent Williams here and there, starting two games when Williams was out, and filling in at both tackle spots when Williams or right tackle Morgan Moses had to leave games due to various injuries. In London last Sunday, Nsekhe played the last 18 snaps of the game after Moses departed with a sprained ankle.
By all accounts Nsekhe has done well. In almost 300 snaps played over the last two seasons—about the equivalent of four and a half full games—he has allowed just two sacks. If the Redskins can get through Williams' suspension with their left tackle giving up two sacks I think they will be reasonably happy.
The question is, can Nsekhe get it done four games in a row? Defensive coaches will have more chances to review him on film to discover his vulnerabilities. Can he adjust to their adjustments? Does he have the durability to get through four games and not get injured?
The coaches have confidence that he can and they need to if only because they have no other choice. We will all find out together.
The other big question here is now that your backup is the starter, who becomes the new backup? Vinston Painter, who was brought up from the practice squad to the active roster on September 27, is one possible solution. He could fill in at right tackle to fill in for Moses when needed.
But what if Nsekhe is forced to leave a game? It’s possible that Moses will do some work at left tackle to prepare to swing over and play on the left side if the need arises. It would be risky to put either Painter or whatever tackle they might sign to take Williams’ roster spot in to protect Kirk Cousins’ blind side.
There is plenty of gloom and doom talk among Redskins fans in the wake of the Williams suspension, which will cover four difficult and important games.
If Nsekhe can play as well in full-time duty as he has in spot fill-in work, the Redskins will be OK. If not, or if Nsekhe gets injured, the Williams suspension could end up being the event that threw the Redskins’ 2016 season off the rails.
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