Maurice Hurt was supposed to spend the 2011 season on the practice squad, honing his ability and learning the NFL game so that he could challenge for a backup tackle spot in 2012. If he couldn't make it, another year on the practice squad may have been in the cards for the 2011 seventh-round draft pick.As they said in the old insurance commercials, life comes at you fast. After some injuries along the line, Hurt went from being a practice squad tackle to a starting left guard in a three-week period.For a seventh-round draft pick who made such a fast transition, Hurt didnt play badly. But not completely embarrassing yourself is not a very high bar.It would seem that the coaching staff was not completely enamored with his performance. They drafted one player at his old position, sixth-round tackle Tom Compton. And they took two players at his new position, drafting guards Josh LeRibeus in the third round and Adam Gettis in the fifth.Further putting a squeeze on Hurt is the fact that LeRibeus played center during the teams recent rookie minicamp and Gettis could be flexible along the interior line as well.Mike Shanahan likes players who can play in multiple positions. Anybody that comes in, if you dress seven guys or eight guys, that whoever that six is youve got to play center and guard and you have to play it well, he said of LeRibeus lining up at center. So that is a big plus.The flip side of that is that being able to play only one position would be a big minus. The Redskins have Hurt listed as a guard on their roster. Can he master the tackle position and still be able to contribute at guard?He could be on the practice squad as he was on the 45-man roster for eight games, the maximum number of games a player can be active and maintain eligibility for the PS. But that would be quite a step down.Hurt will be up against a numbers game. Hell be competing against the three draft picks, free agent signee James Lee, and holdovers Erik Cook, Tyler Polumbus, and Willie Smith for four or five spots. The more Hurt can do, the better his chances sticking will be.
Significant injuries to the Redskins offensive line and defensive secondary will cause a number of position changes for Redskins. Washington gets on the practice field Wednesday at 1 p.m., and rain or shine, the team will look different after losing Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvao, DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland. Here's what we'll be watching:
- Who's at left guard - Injuries to Lauvao and Lichtensteiger have a serious domino effect on the Redskins offensive line. Spencer Long is the backup to both men, and with the former Cornhusker at center, means left guard doesn't have a natural backup. Arie Kouandjio has been working for more than a year to be ready to play guard for Washington, and he might get the chance. The 'Skins also signed center John Sullivan, last of the Vikings, to the team on Tuesday. If and when Sullivan can get ready could allow Jay Gruden to move Long to guard.
- Corner store - Breeland's injury is not as severe as the offensive linemen, and perhaps more important to the team, there is better depth at corner. Rookie Kendall Fuller is likely to see his first game action this Sunday against Cleveland, and the 'Skins can count on Greg Toler and Quinton Dunbar to have increased roles with Breeland out. Watching Fuller work in with the defense will be very interesting to see, as he's been working with the scout team for much of the early season.
- Safety button - D-Hall out for the year is a blow for Washington - no way around it. But expect lots more Will Blackmon at that spot. And Duke Ihenacho and even Deshazor Everett can provide increased snaps.
For live updates check out @JPFinlayCSN from the practice fields.
For the second straight year the Redskins are going to undergo some early–season shuffling in the interior of their offensive line.
Last year left guard Shawn Lauvao was sidelined with an ankle injury after Week 3 and was replaced by Spencer Long. Then after Week 5 center Kory Lichtensteiger went out with a shoulder and neck problem and Josh LeRibeus took his place.
Now Lauvao and Lichtensteiger are out again. Lauvao is week to week with what Jay Gruden described as a “moderate” ankle sprain and Lichtensteiger is on the shelf for at least eight weeks as he went on injured reserve yesterday with a calf strain.
They went with a makeshift lineup for the second half of the Giants game, a lineup that had Trent Williams playing guard for the first time ever. But they have signed some reinforcements and now it will be up to Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan to sort out who will play where against the Browns this week and how they will align them going forward.
The Redskins signed veteran center John Sullivan on Tuesday. Getting him ready to play on Sunday against Cleveland would be a tall task. In addition to learning the plays and blocking schemes, the line calls are very intricate and they take some time to master. Sullivan was out all of last year with back problems so there has to be some rust. However, he was in training camp for the Vikings and he did play some in the preseason before Minnesota released him.
They also moved Vinston Painter from the practice squad to the active roster. The Redskins are his fifth organization since the Broncos drafted him in the sixth round in 2013. He’s a backup for right now but that could change in the weeks ahead.
Arie Kouandjio, who has one NFL snap on his resume, could get his first start since coming to the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. It may depend on whether or not Sullivan can pass a crash course on playing center over the next 72 hours or so.
If Sullivan can’t go, they start Long at center, Kouandjio at left guard, and Williams at left tackle. If Sullivan is ready he could go a center with Long at left guard.
They do have the option of putting Williams at left guard again and having Ty Nsekhe fill in at left tackle. But Williams is not getting paid $10.6 million to be a backup guard; he’s one of the best players in the league at one of the most important positions on the offense. If they can’t coach up Kouandjio to start a game they should reconsider both their personnel and their coaching choices.
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