With each passing day, the Redskins offseason moves sink in a little more. In all, the team did well to address their special-teams unit, make a couple splashes at receiver, tend to gaps at linebacker and in the secondary and fortify a suspect pass rush. More than anything, though, they bolstered their offensive line.
After a changing of the guard from Mike Shanahan to Jay Gruden, so disappeared the architecture for a full-on zone-blocking scheme. While the new coach acknowledges the merits of zone-blocking, as seen in Alfred Morris’ 2888 career rushing yards, it won’t be the teams bread and butter anymore. The most noticeable difference in the structure of the offensive line this year is the size of the lineman.
Two of Washington’s picks from April’s draft, Morgan Moses and Spencer Long, are behemoth lineman topping 315lbs. Free-agent signees Shaun Lauvao and Mike McGlynn can say the same. Lauvao started 11 games for the Browns last season and McGlynn started 14 for the Colts. Of these four new-look lineman, only Moses and Lauvao are currently slated to be starters, with Cory Lichtensteiger sliding over to center to make room for Lauvao at left guard.
Rounding out the remaining projected starters, you have stalwart left tackle Trent Williams and Chris Chester, a starter for 48 straight games since joining the Redskins from Baltimore. After the seven players mentioned so far, things start to get tight in a race to make the team.
Of the remaining lineman, Josh LeRibeus is presumed to have the inside track. Four guys who are battling for roster spots are all “Shanny era” Redskins draft picks and LeRibeus is one of them, being the 71st overall pick in 2012. The others are Maurice Hurt, Adam Gettis, and Tom Compton. Gettis may be on the outside looking in as Maurice Hurt returns from an injury that kept him on the PUP list in 2013.
Compton was Tyler Polumbus’ backup last season, seeing action in 15 games, but will now be battling Polumbus for the Redskins third tackle spot. That is unless Hurt can bounce back and assume the role himself. Either way, it looks like Polumbus’ time may be up in Washington, along with long shots Tevita Stevens and Kevin Kowalski.
LeRibeus and Hurt offer versatility as backups and are prepared to play more than one position. Compton will compete however, and at six-foot-five, he fits the new mold for the larger Redskins offensive line. It only goes to show how far the Redskins have come, and that its offensive line may be ready to give up its diet of low hanging fruit.
Follow Aaron Maddox at @Wordamaddox
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