The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
Who will start on the offensive line?
For the last two years, the Redskins have had the same starting offensive line. From left to right it was Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, and Tyler Polumbus starting 31 of the last 32 games. (A Week 16 concussion in 2012 sidelined Polumbus.) But that brief era of continuity will end this fall. Montgomery was released and Lichtensteiger has switched to center. Shawn Lauvao was signed as a free agent and, for now, is the starter at left guard. But there could be more changes coming. Is Williams-Lauvao-Lichtensteiger-Chester-Polumbus just a snapshot of the way things are right now? Or will that be the lineup that takes the field in September?
Tandler: That depth chart is written with a dry erase marker, not a Sharpie. I’d be willing to bet my mortgage (hypothetically, of course) that the five who are currently at the top of the chart are not the five who will start the season. Williams, of course, is set in stone and they didn’t sign Lauvao to have him watch from the bench. But I will be stunned if Polumbus lines up at right tackle for the opener. They tried to replace him with Donald Penn and the only reason they didn’t keep trying was that the free agent pool at tackle dried up quickly. The top candidate to replace Polumbus is a draft pick, probably a tackle taken with the 34th overall pick. Chester needs to look behind him on the depth chart for a challenge from Josh LeRibeus, who showed up for workouts last week in shape. There will be competition there and although the odds favor the veteran Chester there’s a chance LeRibeus could pull it out. Lichtensteiger needs to look out for Mike McGlynn, a former starter with the Colts who signed a few weeks ago.
El-Bashir: If you want to know what concerns the Redskins’ coaching staff, all you need to do is consider the free agents who visited Ashburn early in free agency. As Rich pointed out, the fact that the Redskins met with Penn probably means some in the organization are not totally sold on Polumbus, despite his marked improvement in 2013. That former Saints center Brian De La Puente was entertained at Redskins Park probably means some in the organization aren’t completely confident Lichtensteiger can change positions mid-career. The fact that the team signed McGlynn, puts pressure on both Lichtensteiger and Chester, since McGlynn can play center and guard, started 30 games the past two seasons in Indianapolis and possesses the size (6-4, 325) Gruden covets up front. In addition, LeRibeus has slimmed down to 317 pounds after struggling with his weight in 2013, Adam Gettis hinted on Twitter that he’s been asked to bulk up and the versatile Maurice Hurt should be completely recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him a year ago. And, of course, if Gruden still isn’t comfortable with the line come early May, he can use 34th overall pick as a potential fix. If I had to guess the opening game starters now, I’ll go with Williams, Lauvao, Lichtensteiger, Chester (or McGlynn) and Polumbus.
- April 10: Who from the draft class of 2011 will step up?
- April 11: Who will claim the punter position?
- April 12: What 2013 draft pick will emerge to play a key role?
- April 13: Will Brian Orakpo take the next step?
- April 14: Will Jordan Reed have a Pro Bowl season?
- Yesterday: Will the Haslett without handcuffs scheme work?
- Today: Who will start on the offensive line?
- Tomorrow: What will Jay Gruden’s offense look like?