Kory Lichtensteiger wasn’t surprised by the move. He knows people around the league view him as a center. He knows his build is more suited to that position.
So when the Redskins told him that’s where he’d play this season, it made sense.
“I’m excited about it,” Lichtensteiger said. “It’s one of those things I always excelled at, more so than guard. When I made that switch in college [at Bowling Green], it was my better years at football. For whatever reason my build, my ability is more suited to center. I look forward to snapping the ball, making some calls and hopefully taking my game to a higher level.”
The Redskins certainly would like that, too. They released the previous starter, Will Montgomery, to make room for Lichtensteiger’s switch from left guard. And they plan to start newly signed Shawn Lauvao at left guard.
At the owners meetings, Redskins coach Jay Gruden called Lichtensteiger a natural center. But having a chance to watch him this week during the three-day voluntary minicamp will give Gruden a better feel on his new center.
“A lot of guys project to center because they have great movement, but if you can’t shotgun snap, it’s hard to play center,” Gruden said. “But hopefully, training camp and OTAs we’ll get a great look and he’ll be able to do that. I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”
Snapping in pistol formation can be tricky for a center. In a regular shotgun snap, a center doesn’t have to drive off the ball. It’s typically a pass or a draw, so they’ll usually be back on their heels. But in the pistol, they must step hard after the snap – just as if it were a snap from under center. It’s something Josh LeRibeus struggled with and one reason he’s no longer working at center.
It's uncertain how much the Redskins will continue to use the pistol, but they're still expected to use it with quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“It’s very real,” Lichtensteiger said of that transition.
For Lichtensteiger, the move also means different offseason preparation. He now must handle pre-snap calls for the entire line; so much occurs after he identifies certain defenders. (Who is playing the middle linebacker, for example. It’s not always who you think and it sets up their blocking scheme.)
“That’s probably the biggest change,” Lichtensteiger said, “the pre-snap work that goes into the position. It’s something I can handle.”
Lichtensteiger has said he wanted to add around 10 to 15 pounds this offseason, putting him in the 295-pound range. That would have been true regardless of what position he played. As he said, “I didn’t turn down any meals this offseason.”
What he hasn’t yet done is pick the brain of Montgomery, whom Lichtensteiger considers a “great friend.” Montgomery landed in a good spot for him, signing a one-year deal with Denver.
“I’ve taken it slow with Will,” Lichtensteiger said. “It was a tough situation at first, but over time it will be better and we’ll be able to talk about it and share similar experiences.”