At one point I thought they might keep 10 linemen, but as camp unfolded it was clear that the Redskins would not warrant that many spots. It would prevent a helpful player at another position. That means, if they keep nine, there are five players fighting for the final four spots. If they keep eight because they want to keep an extra guy elsewhere? Then it gets real interesting.
The starting five are set: left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Shawn Lauvao, center Kory Lichtensteiger, guard Chris Chester and tackle Tyler Polumbus. There is no backup pressing for a starting job.
Here’s how the rest shapes up:
Guard Josh LeRibeus. In his favor: He reported in great shape and has talent that line coach Chris Foerster likes. He lost weight, but he’s still big and can move. Having Foerster still around helps LeRibeus – as does his performance in the Seattle playoff loss after the 2012 season. But you can only live off one relief performance for so long. LeRibeus has played OK in the preseason; nothing special.
Guard Spencer Long. He’s a lock. The question for him is when does he press for a starting job. He struggled against Baltimore so the answer could be: Not for a while. Long works to the linebackers well, but went the wrong way on a couple plays versus the Ravens and needs more work in protection. In other words, he’s a rookie still developing.
Tackle Morgan Moses. Lock. The question for him is can he be the No. 1 swing tackle? Moses has improved since camp opened; more consistent with his base, which has led to better footwork. But he’s barely worked at right tackle. Still, they clearly like his size and that he moves well enough to someday be an effective right tackle.
Tackle Tom Compton. My hunch is that he’ll make it, though he did not distinguish himself when given the chance to play against starters in training camp. He’d get driven back too often. But two weeks ago the Redskins felt he played the best of the second group. Though he got driven back a couple times, he did not give up a sack. If they don’t view Moses as ready to be a No. 1 swing tackle, then it’s hard to release Compton because he can play both sides.
Tackle Maurice Hurt. Once upon a time he was an interesting prospect and it’s not as if he’s been bad in the preseason. It’s not like he’s been great, either, and he’s mostly worked with the third unit. When facing higher competition in camp, he struggled. Hurt played guard in the past, but he worked exclusively at right tackle this summer. If they keep LeRibeus, in addition to Long, they don’t need another guard. And Hurt has not worked at left tackle, either. Backups need to help at two spots.
Center Tevita Stevens. He still has practice-squad eligibility. Tough to see him in the mix.
Guard Kevin Kowalski. Another who has practice-squad eligibility. At 298 pounds, he’s smaller than the players Washington prefers with coach Jay Gruden. Another who remains a long shot.