Who Could Be the Odd Man Out Among the Back-up Offensive Linemen?
The Redskins last season had a near perfect attendance record among their offensive linemen, as collectively they missed just a single start. Given the health of the offensive line last season and the fact that all 5 starters are returning, the Redskins may decide that they don’t need to keep the 9 or 10 linemen like a year ago (the Redskins started off the year keeping just 9 offensive linemen, but added a 10th later in the year).
Though that move would have a number of risks, the team could justify it given how thin they are at some other positions due to players returning from injury (TE, RB, S to name a few). If the Redskins keep eight linemen it will mean that at least one of the 9 returning offensive linemen would need to be cut as well as some other guys who were brought in. Here are the guys fighting for potentially just three spots:
(Note: Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus aren’t considered since they are the projected starters)
Pashos has 70 career starts at RT, and was considered a solid all-around tackle. Unfortunately an injury wiped out his entire 2012 season and it is unclear what he can bring to the table this year. If healthy he could battle for the starting RT job and is probably the best option for a swing tackle this year. The Redskins figure to want a veteran back-up offensive lineman this year and makes it pretty much a two horse race between him and Trueblood. If Trueblood is considered the better option, Pashos might not make the team even with 9 or 10 offensive linemen being kept.
Trueblood was a league minimum signing from the Buccaneers, and has 84 starts at RT in his career. He was benched last year after seeing his play further deteriorate. He could possibly be in the mix for the starting RT role, but he’s unlikely to be much of an improvement. The Team will likely look to keep one veteran offensive lineman and he’ll battle Tony Pashos for the role. He could possibly get a shot if the team keeps 9 or 10 offensive lineman, but he’s probably on the outside currently.
Compton originally didn’t make the Redskins last season after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 draft. After some teams expressed an interest in signing him off the Redskins practice squad the team decided to promote him to protect him last year (this is when they went from 9 OL to 10 OL).Though the hope was that Compton would maybe compete for the right tackle job, the Redskins have worked him almost exclusively at LT both last year and through mini-camp this season. The Redskins seem to like Compton, but since he doesn’t even have a starting shot, it could be tough to keep him on just an 8 man roster (even 9 man could be tough)
Nixon was the Redskins most high profiled undrafted free agent signing this year, after many considered him draftable as a late round pick. Nixon had an up-and-down career at Florida, but he flashed really good potential at times and is an intriguing guy to bring in. He’s unlikely to make the team unless the Redskins keep 10 offensive linemen, but should be an option for the practice squad.
Hurt offers an ability to back-up both guard positions and the right tackle spot. He filled in at RT for Tyler Polumbus in Week 16, in the lone game a back-up had to start last year. He played pretty well in that game and could even be given a chance at the starting job if Tyler Polumbus falters again this season. Hurt is very likely to make the team as a back-up given his versatility. If the team only keeps 3 back-ups it will be key for a couple of them to have the versatility to play multiple positions.
LeRibeus was a bit of a surprise 3rd round pick in 2012 and many considered him as more of a late rounder. LeRibeus didn’t do much to alleviate those thoughts when he struggled through much of camp and the preseason. LeRibeus did get a chance to play late in the year and handled himself okay in limited work. He was called out a little by coaches for showing up out of shape to OTA’s this year, but he is still expected to be a lock for the final 53 man roster even with just 8 offensive linemen. It could change depending on his preseason, but it is unlikely the team will give up on him too soon.
In many ways Gettis out played his fellow higher drafted rookie OL Josh LeRibeus last preseason. The Redskins though decided to keep their rookie guards at just one position last year, so when LG Kory Lichtensteiger missed some game action late in the year it was LeRibeus who got the nod. Gettis was a guy who was always considered a bit more of a project when he was drafted and it was hoped that year two is when he’d be ready to take a more active role. Despite that he could have a tough time making the team if the Redskins only keep 8 offensive linemen. With three back-ups can they really afford to keep only two pure guards? Perhaps if Gettis proves capable of backing up the center position as well he’d get consideration, but otherwise it is likely the Redskins will keep the higher drafted player.
Matthews has a small advantage given that he’s really the only back-up with center experience (though LeRibeus and Gettis are thought to be working on it). That won’t get him too far though as both Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester aare able to project to center if Will Montgomery were to go down. The advantage with Matthews is he could at least leave those players in their respective spots. The Redskins have to consider whether they would be better off with Matthews at center and keeping Licht/Chester at guard, or moving Licht/Chester to center and having LeRibeus/Gettis/Hurt fill in at guard. While Matthews has the bloodlines he’s never proved himself to be really NFL caliber. He would maybe have a shot if the Redskins kept 9 or 10 offensive linemen, but is a long shot for 8.