ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins placed center Kory Lichtensteiger on the injured reserve list with a designation to return and signed veteran Brian de la Puenta to take his roster spot. The move all but ends Lichtensteiger’s season, unless the Redskins reach the playoffs.
Lichtensteiger suffered a pinched nerve in his neck earlier this season and has missed the last three games while he tries to rebuild strength in his left shoulder.
By placing him on the early return list, Lichtensteiger could come back after eight weeks (he can resume practicing after six weeks). With only eight games left in the season, Lichtensteiger would not be eligible to return until two days after the regular-season finale. So if the Redskins don’t make the postseason, his season is over.
It’s a big blow to the Redskins’ offensive line and yet another starter lost long-term. Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao played in only three games this season. Of the Redskins' projected 22 starters on offense and defense, five will have missed at least half the season with injuries and a sixth, corner DeAngelo Hall, has played in only three games thus far (though he might return Sunday).
With Lichtensteiger in the lineup this season, the Redskins have averaged 4.06 yards per carry. Without him, they’re averaging 2.37 yards per carry, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That’s not to put everything on Lichtensteiger, but it does suggest that there has been a dropoff.
Lichtensteiger has started at center since the start of last season and has been missed in the lineup. Backup Josh LeRibeus has struggled to maintain blocks and also with his shotgun snaps. Against New England, quarterback Kirk Cousins routinely was reaching high or wide to grab one of the snaps.
De la Puenta has started 50 games at center during seven seasons; he started six games and appeared in eight last season for Chicago. His season ended because of an ankle injury. Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan signed de la Puenta to a futures contract in 2010 with San Francisco. McCloughan left the franchise three months later and de la Puenta eventually was cut.
He started for three seasons with New Orleans from 2011-13 -- the Redskins play the Saints Sunday. De la Puenta worked his way up from the Saints' practice squad in 2010 to earn the starting job.