Guards vying for backup roles must show versatility in preseason games


Guard Spencer Long, right, blocks Trent Murphy during training camp on Saturday. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

RICHMOND — Strength, leverage and an explosive first step power are essentials for offensive lineman hoping to make the Redskins’ 53-man roster this season. But unless they’re a lock for a starting job, they’ll have to prove they’re versatile, too.

To that end, offensive line coach Chris Foerster plans to switch the guards vying for backup roles from working on one side of the line to the other sometime after the Aug. 7 preseason opener against New England.

That way he can gauge their versatility in practice and in subsequent preseason games before the first round of cuts, to 75, on Aug. 26.

So Josh LeRibeus, who has been working at left guard since training camp opened, can expect to flip spots with rookie Spencer Long, who has been working at right guard. Both were third-round draft picks: LeRibeus, from Southern Methodist, was selected in the 2012 draft; Long, of Nebraska, in this year’s draft.

Foerster switched their roles frequently during spring workouts but has yet to do so during training camp.

“Right now, we’re going to probably get through this stretch with New England (which includes three joint practices and the preseason game next week), and then we’ll look at the next preseason game or two to shuffle the deck a little bit. They’re going to need — if they’re not the starting guard, if they’re say, the next best player — they’re going to need to be able to play right or left. So we’ll work on that.”

Foerster singled out fifth-year player Shawn Lauvao as doing “an excellent job” in camp. In a crowded competition among prospective offensive linemen, Foerster said that NFL experience carries considerable weight.

“Shawn’s a good player, Chris Chester’s a good player, Josh [LeRibeus] and Spencer Long are good players,” Foerster said. “The thing that Shawn and Chester have other these other guys is that they’ve played a lot. And that experience level in the NFL definitely helps you; you have a leg up.”

Though LeRibeus is entering his third season with the Redskins, he has played in few NFL games, having missed all of last season because of poor conditioning.

With starting right tackle Tyler Polumbus out a second day for personal reasons, second-year player Tom Compton handled his duties with the first-team offense Thursday.

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

Washington is next on the field for a 4:10 p.m. walkthrough. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Morris: In pass protection, you have to see everything

Clark and Moss perfect the art of playing into their mid-30s

Lauvao makes strides, adjusts to Wash. offense

Reid: Redskins should keep Hatcher out of preseason

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post, she has also covered five Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.
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Mike Jones · July 31

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