Between now and training camp, Mike Jones takes a closer look at players who find themselves competing for key roles this season, or are in position battles this preseason.
After a struggle-filled 2012 season, right tackle Tyler Polumbus made improvements for Washington last year, and now hopes to continue to get better while also fending off two young challengers for his job.
The 6-foot-8, 308-pound Polumbus still wasn’t perfect last season, but he did play with improved technique with his hands and footwork. Polumbus also started playing with better leverage. All of those things helped the five-year veteran avoid getting beat in pass protection with the same disappointing frequency of the previous year, when defensive ends and linebackers blew past or overpowered him and got to the quarterback.
Although Polumbus improved, team officials aren’t sold on the 29-year-old as the long-term solution at right tackle. In addition to continuing to develop 2012 sixth-round pick Tom Compton, and this spring they used a third-round pick on Virginia’s Morgan Moses.
For now, Polumbus, who enters the final year of his contract, remains the starter. He took all the first-team reps at right tackle during offseason practices. But coaches praised Compton’s improvement, and they like the potential that Moses boasts.
It’s hard to say if either are ready to take over at that position just yet. Compton continues to get stronger and more technically sound (his two main problem areas as a rookie), but he remains inexperienced after only playing a handful of snaps mostly on jumbo packages last season.
Meanwhile, Moses had his ups and downs during the offseason, which is understandable for a rookie.
Because of his experience, Polumbus maintains his edge over both for the time being. It’s hard to evaluate linemen during practices because they’re non-contact. The preseason games will serve as the main measuring sticks for this trio.
If Polumbus shows that he has continued to correct his problem areas, then he should hang onto his job. But if he struggles and the two youngsters display promise, there’s a chance Jay Gruden and offensive line coach Chris Foerster opt to make a change.
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