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Redskins offseason Q&A: What will the O-line depth chart like?


Redskins offseason Q&A: What will the O-line depth chart like?

With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.

What will the offensive line depth chart look like?

It appears that the Redskins’ offensive line starters are set. Barring injury or other unforeseen issues, Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, and Brandon Scherff will line up from left to right when the Redskins take on the Dolphins Week 1. But depth is important and Bill Callahan and Jay Gruden will have to cobble together a mix of draft picks, free agents, and holdovers to keep on the 53-man roster should they be needed. Who will be on that depth chart?

Tandler: The first thing that Gruden and Callahan will need to figure out is how many linemen they will keep. Teams usually keep eight or nine O-linemen on the final 53-man roster. With the team trying to develop depth for the future I think they will go with nine.

That probably means two interior reserves and two tackles. On the outside, Morgan Moses likely is a lock. They spent a third-round pick on him a year ago knowing he would be something of a project. In a surprise, I think that Willie Smith beats out Tom Compton for the other tackle job. If Williams is banged up for a game or two, certainly a possibility given his history, I think they would trust Smith more than Compton to fill in at left tackle.

Rookie Arie Kouandjio was a fourth-round pick and they will keep him around to develop. Will guard Josh LeRibeus, whose career hasn’t been able to gain any traction since he was a third-round pick in 2012, survive the cut? Or will this year’s seventh-round pick, center Austin Reiter, get the last spot?

It may depend on how well LeRibeus can play center and how well Reiter can play guard. Backup interior linemen need to be versatile so the player who best demonstrates that he can handle both positions will get the nod. I think that’s LeRibeus, with Reiter headed to the practice squad.

El-Bashir: I think the Redskins keep nine linemen, just as they did in Gruden’s first year.

And here’s how I see it shaking out: Williams, Scherff, Compton and Moses at tackle; Lauvao, Long, LeRibeus and Kouandjio are the guards; and Lichtensteiger is the center. LeRibeus got in a significant amount of work this offseason at center and will be the emergency should something happen to Lichtensteiger. Meantime, I expect Reiter to head to the practice squad for some seasoning.

I don’t anticipate much drama in training camp along the O-line. But I will be keeping an eye on Smith and Kouandjio.

Smith, who was signed in June for a second tour of duty in Washington, might be able to put some pressure on the backups in front of him. But to earn a spot on the 53, the 28-year-old would need to squeeze his way past Compton, who started at left tackle during OTAs while Williams rehabbed his ankle, and/or Moses, whom the Redskins invested a third round pick only a year ago. Smith does, however, have an edge in experience.

As for Kouandjio, I don’t see him pushing for a starting role right away. But he’s big (6-5, 310) and physical and could intrigue Gruden and Callahan if he proves to be a fast learner.  

Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:

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Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season. In episode 1 titled "The Future Starts Now" the Redskins begin their journey toward improvement following the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.

The episode begins immediately following the disappointing end to Washington's season as players participated in locker cleanout day. A somewhat somber atmosphere, the likes of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams reflect on the season and look ahead to 2019.

Following that, it's on to the additions and changes on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on new defensive staff hirings Ray Horton and Rob Ryan as well as Kevin O'Connell's jump to offensive coordinator. Ryan and O'Connell also explain their excitement for next season in their respective roles.

With the coaching staff puzzle becoming clear, the episode transitions to the NFL Combine. Gruden along with Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, President Bruce Allen and Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith take you through the Combine process. Discussions about the interview process and what the Redskins are looking for in players give insight into how evaluations are done. 

The Combine portion has a heavy focus on players Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf and Montez Sweat among others. Released on March 20, one can see and hear from Sweat before the idea of him becoming a Redskin came to fruition and listen to Metcalf's thoughts on Jay Gruden.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart also makes an appearance, discussing his viral moment with Ed Oliver at the combine and the fraternity-type bond conditioning coaches in the NFL share.

Washington's journey toward success in 2019 began the moment the clock ran out on the 2018 season. Episode 1 of "Redskins365" picks up right in that preliminary stage.


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Trent Williams will not report to Richmond to open training camp, per report

Trent Williams will not report to Richmond to open training camp, per report

Trent Williams will not report to training camp this week when the Redskins head to Richmond to officially begin their 2019 season, according to NFL Network.

The news comes as no surprise, as Williams missed all of the Redskins voluntary offseason workouts and skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June. Reports streamed out that Williams was upset about his contract and looking for a new deal -- not to mention reports that he was angry with the team's medical staff after a missed diagnosis with a growth on his scalp. 

Williams has made no official statements, and the Redskins organization offered very little in terms of a timeline for his return. Washington team president Bruce Allen said he knows "the truth" about Williams' situation, and head coach Jay Gruden said he hoped things would be resolved before Week 1 in Philadelphia. 

A seven-time Pro Bowler, Williams is arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. He's an immensely talented offensive lineman with two years remaining on his deal. Beyond the medical situation, Williams could be upset that in 2020, the final year of his deal, there is hardly any guaranteed cash. The team could release Williams with less than $2 million in salary cap penalty and save nearly $13 million against the cap. 

Without Williams, the Redskins could be in real trouble. Second-year pro Geron Christian did not seem capable of playing at a starting tackle level last fall, and that was before a knee injury landed him on IR. Morgan Moses should be locked in as the right tackle, but opposite him in Williams' spot will be dicey. 

Multiple sources with the Redskins and around the NFL suggested more cash could change Williams' mind before Week 1, and for now, it looks like the 31-year-old will be waiting for that increased payday. If Williams missed actual games, he would begin to lose money from this year's $14 million salary.