Two months into the offseason program, it appears as though Kory Lichtensteiger has all but sewn up the starting job at center for the Redskins.
But that shouldn’t really come as a surprise. One of Jay Gruden’s first personnel decisions as head coach was to cut Will Montgomery and move Lichtensteiger from left guard to center.
“Kory has done a great job at center,” Gruden said after Wednesday's OTA session. “It’s been a natural transition for him. He’s great in the run game; he gets up to the second level with ease. And in the pass protection, with the calls he’s making already, he’s done a great job.”
Gruden added: “There’s competition there, I promise you that, it’s just Kory right now is doing the best out of anybody. He’s had a very good camp.”
Lichtensteiger, 29, has spent the majority of his NFL career at guard, though he’s practiced as a backup center. He spent time playing both positions at Bowling Green.
“I’ve played center on-and-off,” Lichtensteiger said. “I was the backup center last year. Played it a few times in preseason games throughout my career, and I did that my last two years in college.”
“There’s been some adjustments as far as making the calls and having more mental responsibility,” the sixth-year pro added. “It’s all going pretty well. It just takes some time.”
Getting reps at center in practice the past few years has allowed Lichtensteiger to stay sharp, particularly on shotgun snaps.
“It’s something I’ve stayed up on the whole time,” he said. “There’s really never been a year since I came into the NFL where I wasn’t snapping the ball in practice. Shotgun snaps, having to take that big step, gaining ground. That’s not really too much.”
The biggest challenge, Lichtensteiger said, is making pre-snap calls at the line of scrimmage.
“When you’re at guard all you really have to do is know your responsibility because it all comes off what the center calls,” he said. “If you’re the center, nobody gets their calls until you make one, until you point somebody out. That’s the biggest adjustment—knowing that it all hinges on you getting the right call. If you screw it up, then everybody is wrong.”
In addition to switching positions, Lichtensteiger has also bulked up, putting on about 15 pounds. He’s currently listed at 296 pounds.
“They didn’t ask me to do that, but I’ve put on some just because,” Lichtensteiger added. “The good thing is being a center, you have smaller guys [to block]. So if I put on a little bit I think I can keep up with these big boys.”
Like Gruden, quarterback Robert Griffin III praised Lichtensteiger for his seamless transition.
“He’s doing a great job,” Griffin ssaid. “He’s a more athletic offensive lineman. He can run. We got clean snaps from the gun and from under center, so it’s been going well. That’s all you can ask for out of your big guys—get them to tell a couple of jokes, laugh a little bit and block.”