With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
Who will start at right guard?
Chris Chester has not missed a single snap at right guard since the Redskins signed him as a free agent in 2011. But that streak could be in jeopardy. He’s 31, coming off of a rough season, and his salary cap number sits at $4.3 million. Enter third-round draft pick Spencer Long, a tough, young Nebraska lineman who has drawn some high praise from Jay Gruden. And Josh LeRibeus has reported in good shape and could challenge for a job. Will Chester hang on and remain a fixture in the lineup or will youth be served?
Tandler: This could go either way. At the end of the rookie minicamp, Gruden said that Long “is athletic enough to do whatever we want in the zone game. He is smart enough to pick up the blitzes and the line stunts. He’s going to be competitive right away.” Chester responded with a solid performance in OTAs and minicamp. But you can’t really judge a line competition until the pads go on. This one will be played out in Richmond in late July and August. Chester probably has enough ability and guile to hang on to the job. The stakes for him are enormous. If he’s not the starter, the organization might look at his $3 million base salary and say that’s too much for a backup. Long doesn’t have as much pressure on him; if he can’t break into the starting lineup this year he’s almost certainly the starter going into 2015.
El-Bashir: I totally agree that the position battle at right guard won’t really heat up until the pads are on. But I do think Chester enters the battle in good shape. Here’s why. No. 1, he survived the initial veteran purge (Will Montgomery, Sav Rocca, etc.) which suggests to me that Jay Gruden saw enough on tape to give Chester every opportunity to prove that last year’s poor performance was a fluke. It should also be noted that Chester appeared to take every snap this offseason as the starter. No. 2, Chester’s pass blocking figures to benefit from RG3’s offseason improvement and Gruden’s quick pass concepts. And No. 3, I’m not sure Long and/or Josh LeRibeus are close to being ready to mount a serious bid for Chester’s job. Long tore his ACL last October and missed the second half of Nebraska’s season, while LeRibeus hasn’t played a snap since 2012. Both stilI have much to prove. As such, I suspect Chester will continue his strong offseason and hold off his challengers. For now, at least.