With the seriousness of Jammal Brown‘s latest hip injury still unknown, some questions about what the Redskins do at right tackle this season are coming into the forefront of the concerns facing the Redskins this season. Brown who was injured during the conditioning test the day players reported last week, has been put on the PUP list, and will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the seriousness of his injury. Brown missed all of 2009 with a hip surgery, and it has troubled him ever since. The Redskins have been insisting all offseason that Brown was finally healthy, and would be a key cog in protecting their rookie star quarterback, Robert Griffin. Now with new questions surrounding Brown, the RT position and the protection of Griffin are very much in question.
Some people may question if this is an alarmist look, given that the severity of the injury is unknown, but I believe that where there is smoke, there is fire, and this is a situation where there is a lot of smoke. Apparently Brown felt his hip “tighten up” running the conditioning test on July 25th, yet won’t get an MRI done until July 31st. Typically when a player is injured in a practice or workout, they will be checked out that day, or the next day at the latest. Brown instead is waiting 5 full days (6 if you count the 25th), and the first 5 days of practice to get it checked out. The reason given is that Brown wants to go see his own doctor in New York, but this excuse has been even somewhat publicly questioned by head coach Mike Shanahan. Now I get that Brown would want his doctor (i’m guessing the one that performed the sugery) to look over the MRI, but that shouldn’t have stopped the Redskins but that should have been the second opinion on the matter, which would have allowed the Redskins to know where they stand. Now it’s very likely that even if an MRI on the 25th came back clean, Brown would have been sitting out these practices, the Redskins would at least have that timetable of when to expect him back. The fact that the obvious solution wasn’t taken, suggests to me that Brown and probably the Redskins fear a more severe injury.
The Redskins have spent the past three offseasons/training camps trying to sell the idea that Brown (and especially his hip) are healthy, but the production (lack there of) and nagging injuries have proven otherwise. Going into this season it looked like Brown (despite the Redskins effort to say otherwise) still wasn’t a guy the Redskins should be counting on. Given those concerns, it is likely there won’t be a major gap in production between him and any potential replacement, his loss would severely strain the Redskins already limited depth at the position.
Here are the top internal options to take over for Brown on both a short and potentially long term basis:
Tyler Polumbus– Polumbus has stepped in to the starting RT role, but he hardly has a lock on the position. Polumbus was pretty firmly entrenched as the Redskins top depth offensive lineman entering camp. He was originally signed by Shanahan as an undrafted free agent with Denver in 2008. He lasted one more year in Denver, before stints with the Bears and Seahawks. He was released early in the year last year by Seattle and was scooped up by the Redskins. After making one start at LG, he started three of the final four games for Brown with mixed results. While he could probably handle covering for Brown a week or two, he’s by no means a guy you want starting 16 games.
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Maurice Hurt– Hurt, a 7th rounder in 2011, originally didn’t make the Redskins team last year, but after injuries caused concern at guard, he was promoted to the 53 roster and given a chance to start down the stretch. Hurt struggled quite a bit at guard, and ideally wouldn’t have been playing if not for the lack of depth on the Redskins last year. He was firmly moved to tackle for this offseason a position he played some in college. So far he’s been working as the 2nd team RT (would have been third had Brown been healthy), and is considered a borderline player to even make the team (though his odds have def. gone up).
Willie Smith– Smith is already somewhat of a fan favorite, despite being an undrafted free agent last year. He took over the LT spot once Trent Williams was suspended last season, and showed some flashes of promise. Despite those flashes, he still struggled quite a bit last season, and got manhandled in the Redskins final game against the Eagles. Last year he showed promise, but also proved that he was not ready for a full-time starting role. Smith added weight this offseason, and it will be interesting to see whether that helps or hurts him in the preseason. He has currently been running with the third unit at RT (again 4th if Brown was around) showing that he has a ways to go to prove himself.
Tom Compton- Compton was the Redskins 6th round pick this April. He’s a guy with some nice upside and potential, but playing at South Dakota means he’s a bit more raw. The potential is there, but he’s not likely ready to contribute any time early in the season. Currently he’s running as the 2nd team LT, though he’s likely better suited on the right side.
James Lee– Lee is the Redskins lone free agent signing along the offensive line this year (league minimum). He’s started 10 games the past two years for Tampa Bay (9 in 2010, 1 in 2011), but despite that experience there wasn’t much (any) free agent market for him. Also the fact that he couldn’t challenge Jeremy Trueblood, who like Brown is among the worst starting RT’s in the league. Currently he’s running with the 3rd team LT position, and should probably be a long shot to even make the squad.
Chris Chester– I know this seems to be a mistake, but it might not be completely far-fetched. Chester was considered a jack-of-all-trades lineman in Baltimore, and while they would typically use another lineman to fill in at RT (and Chester would start at guard), I don’t believe this is a brand new position for him. Chester would also be brought in as an extra TE on certain sets in Baltimore, showing some athleticism that is needed to play RT. Though overall it would be somewhat of a stretch, rookies Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis (3rd and 5th round picks) are both more likely to be capable as a starting rookie guard versus Compton as a starting tackle. Chester could move out to tackle, allowing a rookie to take over. This would offer the best veteran presence on the edge for the Redskins, something that could allow more rollouts and bootlegs to right side over any of the other options.
What do you think? Do any of the internal options look like a viable 16 game candidate if Brown can’t go?
Check back tomorrow when I look at other options, as well as a conclusion as to what the Redskins should do with Brown.