Redskins mailbag: Offensive line depth, Rex Grossman and the name

Second-year player Tom Compton serves as the backup at right and left tackle. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Second-year player Tom Compton serves as the backup at right and left tackle. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

It’s a quick turnaround for the Washington Redskins, who today jam in a practice, have a walk-through on Wednesday and then fly to Minnesota where they’ll face the 1-7 Vikings at 8:25 p.m. Thursday.

It’s another mailbag Tuesday, however, and today we tackle questions on the offensive line depth, Rex Grossman’s role on the team, safety prospects, the name controversy, and another topic that just won’t go away.

There have been discussions of pass protection problems, and the fact that blame can be spread around. The offensive line does seem to be a major part of the problem, especially in drop-back passing. Is there any chance that any of the young linemen will be called into service this season, or are they either still not ready, or busts? Besides right tackle, what key upgrades are required in the offseason on the offensive line?

— Kevin McCauley

The Redskins have used first-year tackle Tom Compton (who spent last season on the practice squad) in some jumbo packages and on special teams, but he isn’t on the verge of challenging Tyler Polumbus for his job at right tackle. Polumbus has actually played better this season than he did last year. Starting right guard Chris Chester has struggled, but there are no indications that backup Adam Gettis — a second-year player, who so far has only been used on special teams — is close to taking Chester’s job at this point. It’s hard to say how talented either of those two young players are because they’ve only seen preseason action. The one apparent bust of a pick from last year’s draft class for now seems to be guard/center Josh LeRibeus, who has been inactive for every game this season. LeRibeus was drafted in the third round to groom behind Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery last season in hopes that he would compete for a job — primarily at left guard — this season. But he reported for offseason workouts out of shape and coaches expressed disappointment in his conditioning and lack of development during training camp. There’s still time for LeRibeus to work his way back into the coaches’ good graces. But don’t look for him to contribute this year unless someone gets injured.

Why is Rex Grossman still on the team? He shows up but does not dress for games. This would have been the ideal spot for Pat White, who has great potential.

— Brad Lovell

Rex Grossman does play a role on the team. He almost serves as another coach/mentor for Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, and during the week, he runs the scout team offense for the defense. I’m not sure how much “great” potential Pat White actually has. He showed flashes during the preseason while playing against a bunch of third-and fourth-string players  guys, who like him, aren’t in the league now. The Redskins kept him around to play Michael Vick’s role to help their defense prepare, and then as soon as they needed that roster spot, they cut him. They didn’t show any interest in bringing him back. White  who is undersized and doesn’t possess the strongest or most accurate arm  had a couple of tryouts with quarterback-needy teams like Buffalo and Oakland, but they too opted not to sign him.

Phillip Thomas is recovering and aiming for return next season.  But what about Jordan Bernstine?  Any chance his recovery will be complete soon?

— Christian Hussong

Phillip Thomas is on injured reserve and remains under contract. But Jordan Bernstine no longer is in the mix for the Redskins. They cut him, so he’s not even on injured reserve. Even if both players were healthy, Thomas  an all-American at Fresno State and one of the NCAA leaders in interceptions  would be considered an upgrade over Bernstine. Now, does that mean if Bernstine is healthy next year that the Redskins wouldn’t consider bringing him in for an offseason workout? No, that’s not out of the question. But it doesn’t seem very likely either.

Brandon Jenkins was drafted to be a rush specialist and looked good in preseason. Why is he not playing when we need to put more pressure on the quarterbacks we face?

— Darrell Gross

Jenkins played in the first three games of the season, seeing some spot duty and recording one tackle in the season opener, but none in the next two. He had an ankle injury that sidelined him in Week 4, and then Rob Jackson returned from his suspension, and Jenkins was on the inactive list for three straight games. He returned to action this past Sunday, and Darryl Tapp instead was inactive. Jenkins played nine snaps on defense but didn’t record a tackle, sack or quarterback pressure. He’s still very much a work in progress as he learns how to play the outside linebacker position after being a defensive end in college. He’s not currently a better option than Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo or Jackson, but the Redskins find spots here and there to get him on the field in hopes of taking advantage of his speed and athleticism.

If … a big if … the Redskins name might be changed, has anyone considered changing it to Washington Braves? We sing “Braves on the Warpath” and the name Braves certainly could not offend anyone. 

Do you know if the “Braves” name was ever suggested?  Maybe you would have some thoughts on this. Incidentally, my husband, while still in high school in the late 1930′s was in the Redskins marching band.

 — Harriet Goldenberg

This whole controversy may not be what it is today if the name had never changed from the Braves to Redskins. But, although like you said, it’d be a big if, if Daniel Snyder were to change the name, I don’t think he would switch to the Braves, mainly because of the baseball team in Atlanta. “Washington Warriors” has been mentioned and has a decent ring to it, but there’s also the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. So, I’m not sure if that would serve as a deterrent or not.

Do you know why the Redskins haven’t considered returning Tanard Jackson to the team?  I understand that he was eligible to come back in the first part of the season. It seems that Jackson was rated better that some of the current players that the skins have.  Just curious.

— Tony DeCicco

One mystery that keeps coming up is Tanard Jackson.  I thought he was ready to play and just needed clearance.  Is he still on the team? Is he in shape to play? Will he ever come back?  Can he play corner well enough to move DeAngelo Hall to Safety?

— Brad Caudill

Has there been any developments with the safety who was suspended indefinitely who used to be a part of the Redskins defensive backfield plans?  I believe his name is Tanard Jackson.  Has the NFL made any comments regarding his reinstatement, one way or the other, and do the Redskins still own his rights?  We sure could use some more help in the secondary.

 — Rick

Okay, I’m beginning to think this is a bit. There’s no way in the world that this many people can really care that much about Tanard Jackson, and ask the question every single week like they’ve never heard the answer.  Is he paying people to e-mail me to keep his name out there? No update, again. Rodger Goodell has yet to rule on Jackson’s indefinite suspension.

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 on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

The Redskins are practicing now  they started at 11:05 today  and Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III speak to reporters afterward.

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