RICHMOND — At 6-5 and 311 pounds, rookie offensive lineman Spencer Long isn’t the quickest guy on the Redskins’ roster. But the third-round draft pick from Nebraska is a quick study.
And that’s a significant factor in establishing his versatility and readiness to be inserted at either right guard or left, as the situation warrants.
Until this week, Long had been lining up at right guard with the second-team offense, behind nine-year veteran Chris Chester, who hasn’t missed a start in three seasons. But as promised, offensive line coach Chris Foerster flipped the second-team assignments following the team’s preseason opener to evaluate who could function best as a swing guard.
“Definitely in the long run, it’s good,” said Long, 23, of the change. He’s now working at the left guard spot while Josh LeRibeus, a third-round draft pick from 2012, tries his hand at right guard.
“If you’re a swing guard and someone goes down in the game, you’re going to be able to play both sides. So it’s definitely good for your development and knowledge of the game. Might be a little shaky to start, but it makes you a better football player.”
A two-sport athlete at Elkhorn High in Elkhorn, Neb., Long played defensive end and was a member of the state championship baseball team.
With plans of becoming a doctor, he enrolled at Nebraska and walked on to the football team. After being converted to a guard, Long started every game as an offensive lineman by his sophomore year. He didn’t miss a start as a junior, either.
He was named a team co-captain his senior year, which ended with a knee injury six games in. Nonetheless, Long graduated a semester early, earning a degree in biology and pre-med.
Following knee surgery he was picked in the third round of the draft by Redskins coaches who were drawn to his physicality and smarts. If he’s a quick a study as it appears, he may challenge for Chester’s starting spot at some point this season.