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Center depth issues not new for Redskins - even with attempts to improve

Center depth issues not new for Redskins - even with attempts to improve

With Kory Lichtensteiger battling calf and back injuries, the Redskins have serious issues with depth at center. This is nothing new. 

When the Redskins got to the NFL Draft in May, some thought had Washington targeting Alabama center Ryan Kelly. A beast at 'Bama, 'Skins broadcaster Chris Cooley called Kelly the best prospect at his position in the draft by a wider margin than any other player at any other position. Drafting Kelly would have solved many of Washington's offensive line problems, but that plan went awry when the Colts picked Kelly with the 18th pick. Washington did not draft until 21, and eventually would trade down a spot and take receiver Josh Doctson. 

With Kelly off the board, the Redskins returned to Richmond for training camp with Kory Lichtensteiger as their starting center. Though often a target of fan criticism, Lichtensteiger provides good leadership along the offensive line and expertly identifies defensive fronts, making calls quickly for his fellow linemates.

Despite that, Lichtensteiger has struggled at times playing center. Knowing that, Scot McCloughan attempted to make a trade for former Patriots center Bryan Stork in late August. The whole move for Stork was bizarre, as the player contemplated retirement and eventually failed his physical, nullifying the trade.

Beyond Stork, the Redskins worked to develop another center in Austin Reiter. A 7th-round pick in 2015, Reiter spent last season on the Washington practice squad and opened the 2016 year in the same spot. The Browns came in and poached Reiter to their 53-man roster, and this weekend, he will likley hit the field at FedEx though wearing a different uniform. 

What makes Reiter's name so interesting is that injuries to not just Lichtensteiger but also left guard Shawn Lauvao mean that backup center/guard Spencer Long must play center as there is nobody else capable on the roster. Jay Gruden said Monday that the team will be forced to bring in a "center-type" player this week as there are no other healthy options outside of Long.

With Long at center and if Lauvao is out as many suspect, the Redskins must turn to second-year man Arie Kouandjio at guard, or move veteran Pro Bowler Trent Williams inside and play Ty Nsekhe at tackle. Neither option is ideal. 

Injuries to Lichtensteiger and Lauvao are causing the musical chairs on the Redskins offensive line, but it's not like the Washington brass didn't know they had little depth in the middle. Despite their efforts - Kelly has now started three games for the Colts as a rookie, Stork failed his physical, and Reiter is in Cleveland - they just could not fix it in time.

 

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Veteran Terrell Suggs making his snaps count, helps Ravens to 3-0 start

Veteran Terrell Suggs making his snaps count, helps Ravens to 3-0 start

The Ravens are monitoring Terrell Suggs’ snap count, coming off a season-ending Achilles injury in 2015 and playing his 14th NFL season. However, Suggs made key plays for the Ravens in Week 3, and his best could be yet to come.

Suggs had two sacks against the Jaguars, including one on their final drive that helped seal the Ravens’ 19-17 victory. The veteran outside linebacker played 37 snaps against the Jaguars, and he hasn’t played more than 39 snaps in any of the first three games. But when the Ravens needed big plays down the stretch in Jacksonville, Suggs was fresh enough and good enough to deliver.

“For Terrell Suggs – I think he is a great example – to pull off the big plays that he pulled off with the sacks and the run stop at the end of that game, to be in that kind of shape that you have to be in to do something like that in that kind of heat says it all,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

Suggs admitted he was drained by the heat and humidity in Jacksonville.

“I kept using the hose on the sideline, drinking water,” Suggs said after the game. “Anytime you get a sack and I can’t celebrate afterward, that shows you. I was in shape, I thought I hydrated enough, but apparently not. This Florida sun got me again.”

Suggs knows that some people aren’t sold on the Ravens’ 3-0 start, but he doesn’t care. He expects the Ravens to be at their best late in the season, when the stakes are highest. And Suggs expects the same for himself.

"A win's a win's, they all count," Suggs said. "What's more important, they're three AFC wins...This is the NFL man, you can't take no wins for granted, as we all learned last year. Three-and-O is 3-0, no matter what y'all say about it."

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