Roster Breakdown: Offensive Line
We’ll head into the start of training camp with a position-by-position breakdown of the Redskins’ roster. Up next: a look at what to expect from the offensive line this season.
BY ZAC BOYER
With training camp set to start on Thursday, here’s a look at the Redskins’ offensive linemen, along with an outline of what can be expected from the players on the units. Click here for previous positional breakdowns.
Position: Offensive Line
Projected Starters: LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus
Returning: LG Josh LeRibeus, RG Adam Gettis, LT Tom Compton, RG Maurice Hurt
Players Added: RT Jeremy Trueblood (free agent – Buccaneers), RT Tony Pashos (free agent – Browns), C Kevin Matthews (free agent – Titans), LT Jacolby Ashworth (undrafted – Houston), LT Xavier Nixon (undrafted – Florida), C Tevita Stevens (undrafted – Utah)
Players Lost: RT Jordan Black (free agent), RT Jammal Brown (free agent)
The Good: Williams is coming off the best season of his three-year career, which he has credited to a greater sense of maturity and responsibility as a team captain. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound left tackle was motivated to prove he’s among the best players in the league at his position, which he was able to accomplish with a selection to the Pro Bowl. He also played through a bruised right knee and a bruised left thigh for much of the season because he wanted to set an example for his teammates. The satisfaction gained from reaching those goals a year ago is something Williams said last month he’d like to feel again.
The Bad: Just like in 2011, the Redskins are one major injury away from a catastrophe on the offensive line. While the team has done its part in bringing in several talented offensive linemen, including two in Pashos and Trueblood with considerable experience as a starter, it’s hard not to think the $18 million salary cap penalty was prohibitive in finding a player or two who could truly challenge for a starting role on the offensive line. The starters played 96.4 percent of all snaps last season, which is virtually a miracle in modern football, as only Polumbus missed a game. It’s unlikely the Redskins will be similarly fortunate this season.
Worth Watching: Although the Redskins signed Pashos and Trueblood to push Polumbus at right tackle, the position is still Polumbus’ to lose. The Redskins are high on the 6-foot-8, 305-pounder, who was thrust into a starting role at the beginning of last season when Brown’s ailing hips wouldn’t allow him on the field, and they signed him to a two-year, $2 million contract in March shortly after free agency began. He’s not the strongest player, and the five sacks he allowed ranked second on the team to Williams, who plays a more difficult position. But he has a role heading into a season for the first time since he was with Mike Shanahan in Denver in 2009, which should help his development. … While it appears the Redskins have several players who can play several positions, very few of them have done so in a professional game. Montgomery and Lichtensteiger are each capable of playing either guard or center, and Hurt played six snaps at left guard and made one start at right tackle last year. That’s where the experience ends. Pashos and Trueblood said they haven’t played left tackle in years, making it unlikely they’d stick on the roster as Williams’ backup. LeRibeus is supposed to have the ability to play center, but he was active for only five regular-season games and played only 21 snaps, all at left guard. Gettis, too, has been advertised as an interior lineman, but he was inactive for every game last year. Could one of them play a secondary position at a sufficient level? Probably. If the numbers are going to be skewed because of competition at the other offensive positions – Shanahan kept nine last year, but eight seems more likely – the ability to play two positions well will go a long way. … Lichtensteiger is widely considered the Redskins’ best run blocker, but Chester is underrated. He’s athletic, knows his responsibility with outside zone runs and has little problem opening up cutback lanes. Plus, he gave up only one sack last season, and he’s played every snap in his two years in Washington, making him as reliable as they come. … Compton spent all of offseason workouts at left tackle, and he’ll continue to get much of the snaps at the position in training camp. The 6-foot-5, 308-pounder out of South Dakota spent all the first 12 games of his rookie season on the practice squad, but the coaches believe he has the strength, foundation and ability to be a serviceable backup at the position. If he can show an ability to play right tackle – and why not? – he’ll make a strong case for surviving the preseason. He does still have practice squad eligibility. … It was impressive for Lichtensteiger to miss the final seven games in 2011 after blowing out his right knee, require an additional arthroscopic procedure during the preseason and then play every game last year without any major setbacks. He should not have any lingering issues with it this year. … Pashos missed all of last season as he recovered from a ruptured tendon in his foot. This could be the end of the line for the 32-year-old if he doesn’t make the roster. … The Buccaneers finally gave up on Trueblood after seven seasons because, in part, of his penalties. He has been called for 50 penalties during his career, including a false start 33 times. … LeRibeus needs to prove he’s committed to football, specifically through his conditioning. A third-round pick a year ago, LeRibeus once pushed 400 pounds during his time at SMU but was in the 320-pound range at the start of last season. He was held out of practice during offseason workouts with what was said to be a groin injury, but it was a thinly veiled cover-up. He played well in the final game of the regular season against Dallas, but those 21 snaps won’t carry him into this season. … Nixon was a projected late-round pick, and the Redskins were able to snatch him as an undrafted free agent. His biggest issue at Florida was his consistency, which is partly because he never had a chance to settle into any specific role. If anything, Nixon seems to be a good practice squad candidate.