The Redskins open their season a little over three months from now and it appears that the starting offensive line is set. But the shape of the group behind Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long and Brandon Scherff is very much a work in progress.
During the OTA on Tuesday, guard Josh LeRibeus lined up at center when the second and third teams were running plays. But we already knew that from last week. What was different this time around was who lined up at right guard.
For a while it was Tom Compton, who pulled some double duty to the right of LeRibeus after taking snaps at left tackle with the first team. Then it was Ty Larsen, a center who is battling to make the roster.
Flexibility is always important when it comes to getting a roster spot but it is in the spotlight this year after the departure of Chris Chester. He was the starting right guard as well as the backup center. If Lichtensteiger had been hurt during a game last year Chester would have moved into the middle and the backup guard, Long on most days, would have been inserted at right guard.
Usually the team can afford to have one backup interior lineman active on game days. So without Chester someone has to be the Plan B both at center and elsewhere on the line.
Center is not an easy position to learn. In addition to blocking assignments the center has to make calls to set up protection. And then there is the matter of snapping the ball to the quarterback, often from shotgun formation.
Jay Gruden is happy with what he has seen out of his O-line reserves.
“It’s very important to get their reps,” he said. And they’re all welcomed to it. Our line all working very well together. Their communication is excellent and they’re all learning and they’re all getting better and that’s kind of the theme around here.”
There are a lot of possibilities. If Compton can manage to be an emergency guard perhaps Larsen or Austin Reiter could make it just playing center. If Larsen can play guard perhaps he can be a game day active as the interior emergency backup. The same with Reiter. Although he hasn’t worked at center during OTAs open to the media, Gruden said that Long has been learning center. Tackle Morgan Moses is injured now but assuming he returns for camp he could learn to play guard in addition to his primary position.
This will continue to play out over the three months remaining before the final cuts are made. It may turn out that Player A may make the team over Player B thanks more to his versatility than to his ability at his primary position.