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Redskins have multiple scenarios at tackle

polumbus-practice.png

Redskins have multiple scenarios at tackle

RICHMOND—The depth chart at right tackle is perfectly clear. Well, sort of anyway.

“You take a look at our tackle situation and I think it is very obvious to everybody who is first, second and third team right now, but there’s a lot of different scenarios that can occur,” Mike Shanahan said this week.

So we have two different sets of scenarios there; who is lining up now and a different dynamic that may be at work when the roster is trimmed to 53.

Right now, as Shanahan said, it’s pretty simple. The starter is Tyler Polumbus, the same player who started 15 games in 2012. Taking snaps with the second team is Tony Pashos, an eight-year veteran who has played with four other NFL teams. And on the third team is Jeremy Trueblood, who spent six seasons with the Bucs before coming to Washington.

Then we get into the “different scenarios”. It seems likely that Polumbus will go into the season as the starter. It’s hard to see how Trueblood makes the team. He has been very stiff and ineffective in both position and team drills. There is still time for him to bounce back but it would take a major turnaround for him to be a serious contender for the 53-man roster.

What about Pashos? This is where it gets complicated. As of right now, Tom Compton is the backup left tackle. Here is what Shanahan had to say about his potential to play the right side.

“If you play the left side, usually you have the quickness to go to the right side – you have that type of athletic ability,” he said. “Usually the left tackle with a right-handed quarterback, is the better athlete, and, we think he has that type of ability.”

It could come down to two things—trust and numbers. Do they trust Compton, a second-year player out of South Dakota, to back up both tackle positions? And can they afford to keep four tackles, Compton, Pashos, Polumbus, and Trent Williams?

The wild card here is Maurice Hurt. He has been on the PUP list and Shanahan said on Wednesday that there is no timetable for his return. When Polumbus missed that one game with a concussion Hurt filled in and did not embarrass himself. Hurt also filled in at left guard in 2011 when Kory Lichtensteiger was out so he has versatility.

Hurt could squeeze out Pashos for the last spot. But it may all depend on if the coaches believe that Compton could be an effective swing tackle and handle the left side if Trent Williams misses a game, or even a series or two.

So, yeah, it’s complicated.

“It’ll be interesting to evaluate a lot of these offensive linemen situations and I’m looking forward to that,” said Shanahan.

We’re looking forward to seeing how it will play out, too.

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Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

RICHMOND - Looking at the contracts for the two most important people associated with the Washington Redskins, a clear discrepancy arises. The head coach, Jay Gruden, is under contract until 2020. The quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is only under contract for 2017. 

Some speculation suggested that, given the diverging deals, at some point Gruden might look to develop another passer that's locked in with the Redskins for the long-term. Backup QB Colt McCoy is under contract for the next two seasons, and second-year passer Nate Sudfeld is under team control through the 2019 season. 

Gruden made clear that isn't the case. Crystal clear. 

"We're focused on Kirk," the head coach said. "He's our starter and he's going to get all the starter reps. Period."

Cousins should obviously be the focus. In the past two seasons he's twice broken the Washington single season passing yards record, and his rise has coincided with the Redskins first back to back winning seasons in 20 years. 

As for practice reps, Cousins will get the vast majority. McCoy will get work, and Sudfeld too, but this Redskins team is focused on winning this season. 2018 contracts are not on the coach's mind in July of 2017, nor should they be. 

"Colt [McCoy] will take advantage of his reps, I'm sure he will. And Nate [Sudfeld] will get a few sprinkled in there. We're trying to develop Nate also for the future. But, this is Kirk's team right now, and it's our job to get him ready for Philadelphia and really surround him and make him feel good about the people around him. Trying to get him used to [Josh] Doctson, get him used to [Terrelle] Pryor, we have some new weapons around him, so it's a matter of getting him ready. But Kirk will get all of them."

With a rebuilt defense and plenty of options offensively, the Redskins should compete for a playoff spot this year. Is there a scenario where the team sputters and spirals into a lost season? Maybe. And in that hypothetical scenario, perhaps at some point it makes sense to see what another passer can do. It's a long shot. 

For Redskins fans, know that Cousins is the unequivocal starter. Period. 

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Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

RICHMOND—The Redskins will be without Jordan Reed in training camp for an unknown period of time. Although his toe injury does not appear to be serious, others will have to fill the gap until he is able to return. And the Redskins just so happen to have one of the deepest tight end groups in the NFL and they added another one with NFL playing experience on Thursday.

Jay Gruden said that the Redskins needed to sign E.J. Bibbs, who has one NFL catch in his career, because Vernon Davis, the backup tight end, has “a little bit of a tweaked hamstring.” Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards last year, seemed to me moving fine in practice after Gruden spoke to the media but he could need some reps off on occasion so they brought in Bibbs to fill in the gap. There is no point in pushing the 33-year-old Davis if it’s not necessary.

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The Redskins have even more options at tight end. Niles Paul is back and he appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last eight games in 2016. Paul is going into his seventh season and while he is mostly relied on for special teams play he does have a 500-yard season on his resume (2014).

During offseason practices fifth-round rookie Jeremy Sprinkle looked like he had a lot to learn as he goes from a run-based offense at Arkansas to the Redskins’ sophisticated pass-first scheme. He will need to find his comfort level before he takes any snaps in Reed’s place.

The forgotten veteran is Derek Carrier, who now appears to be fully healthy after he missed the first half of last season with a knee injury he suffered late in 2015. He had just two receptions for 10 yards last year in limited playing time on offense.

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Joining Bibbs in the long shot category is Manasseh Garner, a first-year player out of Pitt. While neither player seems to have a shot at the 53-man roster, the Redskins could carry one of the tight ends on the practice squad.

Depth is a good thing to have and the Redskins have done a good job assembling a backup plan at tight end. But you just can’t replace Reed, one of the best few tight ends in the NFL, without a significant drop off in production. The Redskins will let the backups compete and learn in training camp and will keep Reed either on the sideline or doing very light work until he is fully ready to go (and then some).

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.