Last week, the Redskins released center Will Montgomery, and the assumption immediately was that Kory Lichtensteiger becomes the team’s de facto starting center.
This is a move that Chris Cooley can get behind. Not in the sense that a quarterback gets behind a center, but similar.
“I’m a little bit bummed for Montgomery, because on a lot of people’s boards going into last year, he was a potential Pro Bowl center after the year he had in 2012,” Cooley said Friday on his ESPN 980 program. “He wasn’t a world-buster in 2012, but he did have a very solid year, and you expected him to continue to grow as a starter in an offense that he was comfortable with. And for the most part, he really didn’t. I think he [regressed] throughout the year, and I think that was one of the positions that you said this is a little bit of a weakness for our team.
“Now Steiger will be fantastic,” Cooley went on. “He’s clearly our lightest offensive lineman, but he’s very light on his feet, and what they ask him to do up-front at center is not as much as they ask him to do at guard. It’s a lot easier to pass-block at center; you can quick-set those nose tackles that are directly in front of you, you don’t have as much two-gap reads that those guys can beat you in the pass game, and you don’t have to go as far as far as some of those reach blocks. So I think he’ll be very good there. I think that’s a nice complement to what they want to do on the offensive line. It’s just, what are we going to get out of the new guard?”
Al Galdi then asked Cooley about Lichtensteiger’s weight; he was listed last season at 284 pounds, a full 20 pounds lighter than Montgomery.
“I would suggest putting on 10, 15 pounds, being 298, 297, somewhere in that area,” Cooley said. “I think that would benefit him to some extent, just because you do at times play across from 6-5, 340. It could be an issue, but he’s played long enough in the league, and it hasn’t been much of an issue. It will depend on what they’re asking him to do. If they’re asking him to be one-on-one with nose tackles more often than not, then yeah, it could be an issue. But if they’re asking him to be quick and be a double-team type of guy and have help in pass protection with guards bumping down, then it’s not the issue that you really think.”
Still, Lichtensteiger apparently isn’t taking any chances.
“It’s so funny, too, because I was talking to [offensive coordinator Sean] McVay a little over a month ago, right after Gruden got here,” Cooley went on. “And he said, yeah I was gonna introduce Steiger to Gruden. Steiger said no, I don’t want to meet him just yet. I’ve got to get a little bit bigger before I walk into his office.”
That’s the same strategy that Josh LeRibeus employed last year, incidentally.