Rookie Offensive Linemen Need to Step-up
December 19, 2012 in Redskins Personnel
The Washington Redskins are in first place (technically a tie) after 15 weeks of the NFL season, due in large part to the play of their rookies. Quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris have been integral parts of the Redskins success this season. Other rookies like corner back Richard Crawford and linebacker (before he got injured) Keenan Robinson have also contributed to the Redskins in a positive way this season. Even back-up quarterback Kirk Cousins has had a big impact with scoring the game tying touchdown and two point conversion two weeks ago, and winning in his first start this past Sunday. So far the only players who haven't contributed (not counting injured Jordan Bernstein), have been the three offensive linemen the Redskins drafted. Now with two weeks left in the season and the playoffs on the line, the Washington Redskins will need their offensive linemen to step up as they try to secure a playoff spot and the division title.
So far this season the Washington Redskins have started the same five offensive linemen in every game, but that could change this Sunday after starting right tackle Tyler Polumbus and center Will Montgomery left last week's game due to injury. Polumbus left with a concussion, and it is unclear what his status will be for this week's game. Even if he looks good to play, the team won't truly know if he's ready until the morning of the game when he undergoes his final concussion test. Montgomery left in the final drive due to a knee injury, that has since been diagnosed as a sprained MCL. The team hasn't released the severity of the injury just yet, but even a mild sprain would be very tough for a center to play with this week. Further complicating matters is the fact that the Redskins top reserve, veteran Jordan Black was suspended for the next four games, due to a banned substance.
Though not a top back-up by any means, Black is the best the Redskins have. Of the 114 snaps back-up offensive linemen have played this season Black has accounted for 108 of them. He also has 40 career NFL starts in his career, while playing in dozens of other games. Now without Black the Redskins offensive line depth looks like this:
G/T Maurice Hurt- 7th round pick in 2011. Started 8 games in 2011 at LG, struggled mightily though, giving up 3 sacks and over 20 additional pressures. He's played just six snaps this season (all at LG). He got some right tackle experience in the preseason, but didn't show much which partially led to the Redskins signing Jordan Black out of retirement.
G Josh LeRibeus- 3rd round pick in 2012. Widely considered an overdraft by the scouting community. He struggled in preseason and the center experiment hasn't seemed to have taken off just yet. He lost out to Hurt for the back-up LG spot, and didn't even get a look at RG despite a preseason injury to Chris Chester. Despite his 3rd round status, he's been inactive for more than 10 games this season.
G Adam Gettis- 5th round pick in 2012. Gettis was considered an intriguing upside pick by the scouting community, though was thought to need at least a year to develop and add bulk. He played a fair amount in preseason at RG due to Chester's injury and at times showed some interesting promise. He struggled some versus starters and showed why he may need some developmental time. He's been inactive every game this season.
T Tom Compton- 6th round pick in 2012. Compton came from a smaller school (South Dakota), and was considered another interesting developmental project. He wasn't given much of a chance to win the open RT job in camp, instead coming in for Trent Williams at LT. He struggled in preseason, and was considered to be a bit slow footed for the Redskins zone-blocking scheme. He was released before the start of the season and placed on the practice squad. He spent his first 13 weeks on the practice squad, and has been inactive for the two game since.
With two potential injuries the Redskins would need to rely on two of these four guys, who have a combined 563 NFL snaps (all by Hurt) to start. The remaining two would then become the primary/only back-ups. That is a lot considering their inexperience and even more so when you consider the Redskins playoff implications of this week's game.
It's possible that both Polumbus and Montgomery will be ready to go this week, meaning that the rookies only need to step up in a back-up capacity. But it is also very likely that at least one of the Redskins starters will need to miss time. And the question becomes what do the Redskins do if that is the case. Guard Kory Lichtensteiger will probably take over at center, though he really hasn't played that position since college (unless you count the six snaps from Sunday). Hurt is the favorite to take over at one of the positions, but either one spells trouble for the Redskins. If you play him at guard his "better" position, then the Redskins would go with Compton at tackle. If they play him at tackle, and likely go with Josh LeRibeus at guard you could be weakening two positions. If the season weren't on the line, it wouldn't be bad to go with the rookies and see what they have got, but that is not the case. The Redskins need to rely on these guys to answer the call like so many of their other rookies have this year.
If Polumbus and Montgomery can't go, who do you want to see taking their place?