Redskins expand Tom Compton’s duties on offensive line

Tom Compton

Offensive lineman Tom Compton limbers up during training camp. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Backup left tackle Tom Compton’s role became increasingly important last week after all-pro starter Trent Williams injured his wrist and began wearing a soft club cast.

On Monday, after backup left guard Josh LeRibeus hyperextended his left knee on a running play, Compton slid inside to help shore up the No. 2 position at left guard, backing up Kory Lichtensteiger during a number of drills. It was hardly something new for Compton. He has experience shifting; while in college, he played at both right tackle and left tackle – which he said made him grow comfortable playing anywhere up front.

“I played both (tackle positions) in college, so I’ve had experience, being able to switch back and forth,” Compton said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think my experience playing both, its not as hard for me to switch. I think it just comes down to be able to be in that stance. And being able to use the footwork the way you want to.”

Compton’s versatility has become a major asset for Washington this offseason, and marks a step forward after Compton served as a developmental practice-squad lineman as a rookie. The 2012 sixth round pick out of South Dakota was called up to the 53-man roster late last season, when Coach Mike Shanahan said at the time, “I think he has a big-time future for us.

Still, as a rookie, Compton was playing on both sides of the line at tackle, which is his natural habitat. He entered camp at roughly the same size as last season (6 feet 5, 308 pounds), and the amount of reps he is getting has increased steadily from his rookie camp, when he progressed enough to start the final preseason game.

Compton is expected to make the 53-man roster when camp breaks in about a month, and he’s important insurance in case Williams, one of the team’s most gifted players, is injured further. Compton was listed as the team’s second-string left tackle behind Williams when the first preseason depth chart was released Monday. 

Moreover, the transition from position to position is smooth compared to jumping to the NFL from a Football Championship Subdivision, where South Dakota is part of the Summit League. Compton, who was one of the more decorated tackles in the 2012 draft, said that he is learning from Williams on a daily basis. And now, with LeRibeus not practicing Tuesday, he can start picking up more from Lichtensteiger.

“I feel alot more comfortable this year,” Compton said. “Getting that year of experience, and getting used to the speed and the size and all that. So last year was definitely a big jump, but last year to this year, I feel a lot more comfortable.”

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What’s ahead:
● Wednesday, the team has a walk-through, preparing for Thursday’s preseason opener in Tennessee.

● Camp in Richmond resumes Saturday. If you’re headed there, check our our guide to training camp for tips on getting autographs, where to park and things to do after the session is over.

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