Shanahan confident in offensive line depth despite inexperience

September 3, 2013
Tom Compton
Second-year player Tom Compton will serve as backup left and right tackle. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

In constructing their initial 53-man roster, the Washington Redskins opted to go with an offensive line unit comprised of eight players.

All five starters from last season – left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, center Will Montgomery, right guard Chris Chester and right tackle Tyler Polumbus – return and bring much-needed stability. But the quality of Washington’s depth remains a mystery.

Lichtensteiger and Chester can play center if something happened to Montgomery. But the team on Saturday cut its only seasoned backup – 10th-year veteran right tackle Tony Pashos – and settled on 2012 draft picks Tom Compton, a swing tackle, and guards Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis. LeRibeus, selected in the third round, appeared in five games last season. Gettis, a fifth-rounder, didn’t play in a game despite spending the year on the 53-man roster in 2012. And Compton spent the bulk of the season on the practice squad and hasn’t played beyond the preseason, either.

But Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan expressed confidence in the young, still-developing linemen.

Compton worked exclusively at left tackle during the preseason, but will be used to backup Williams and Polumbus this season. Last season, coaches said Compton’s main problem was a lack of strength. He spent the offseason working to improve in that area, and in offseason practices and the preseason earned a vote of confidence to serve as the only tackle on the roster aside from the starters.

LeRibeus reported for the offseason practices out of shape, and spent all of those sessions working to improve his conditioning. He experienced mixed results in the preseason, but coaches believe he still can develop into a quality interior lineman. Gettis battled some hamstring injuries early in training camp, but rebounded to have a solid preseason.

Shanahan believes despite their lack of game experience, the trio can serve the team well if called upon.

“We feel good about Tom playing left and right,” the coach said. “And then we’ve got the ability with Gettis and LeRibeus to swap guys in there. So we feel good about our depth, feel good about our practice squad as well. But when you make those decisions, like I say, you’re trying to make decisions based on what you think gives the best chance for the team to be successful. We went with eight this year, and we do have a lot of confidence in our backups.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins practice Wednesday and Thursday at 1 p.m.

● The NFL season kicks off in two days, with Baltimore in Denver on Thursday night.

More about the Redskins:

With a roster spot secure, Chris Thompson hopes for a role

Garcon says injured toe is completely healed

D.C. Sports Bog: Roddick to RGIII: You don’t have to comment on everything | More Bog

Decision to keep Murphy, Gumbs ‘easy,’ Shanahan says

Cousins says foot is improving | White thrilled, says work just beginning

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mike Jones · September 3, 2013

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