RICHMOND — There is relatively little up for grabs at the Washington Redskins’ training camp, perhaps a handful of roster spots and a starting job or two. One of the few positions where the typical talk about competition for playing time might be more than just talk is right tackle, where incumbent starter Tyler Polumbus was re-signed as a free agent in the offseason but two NFL veterans were added as potential alternatives.
Polumbus has continued to work with the starting offense in training camp practices while one newcomer, Tony Pashos, has practiced with the second team and the other, Jeremy Trueblood, has spent his time on the third-string offense. Polumbus probably remains the favorite, and perhaps a strong favorite, to stay put as the starter when the regular season begins.
But the fact the Redskins brought in two experienced players at his position reinforces the notion that Polumbus’s hold on the starting job isn’t particularly strong. Even so, Polumbus says he is spending this camp focusing on his own play and he didn’t fret too much when the Redskins added Pashos and Trueblood.
“They weren’t really my concern,” Polumbus said this week. “My concern is always myself and just trying to be the best player I can be. Obviously when I went through free agency and went down to Jacksonville and they made me an offer, I talked to Coach [Mike] Shanahan and a lot of guys here and they made me feel comfortable with why they want me here.”
Polumbus declined to specify what the Redskins said to convince him to re-sign. But asked what made him comfortable that returning to Washington was best for his career, Polumbus said: “I just knew that Coach Shanahan has always been good to me going back to my Denver days. I feel like his system gives me the best chance to be the player I know how to be.”
Polumbus took over as the Redskins’ starter at right tackle last season with Jammal Brown unable to play because of an ailing hip. He widely was viewed as the weakest link on an offensive line that was not thought to be among the team’s strengths entering the season. But the starting unit remained intact basically all season — Polumbus missed one start after suffering a concussion while the other four members of the line started all 16 games — and performed well, as the Redskins had one of the league’s most productive offenses.
“You just kind of take the highs and lows, and you try to figure out the things you need to get better at,” Polumbus said. “I thought it was a good year. Obviously offensively we did very well. There’s certain things that I want to get better at.”
Shanahan declined to say directly Thursday how firmly entrenched Polumbus is as the starter. He said, speaking more broadly about the team’s offensive tackle situation, that he thinks “it’s very obvious to everybody who’s first-, second- and third-team right now,” but added: “There’s a lot of different scenarios that can occur.”
It is not clear how seriously the team’s coaches will consider replacing Polumbus as the starter. If they do make a move, Pashos seems to be the top candidate to step in. He has made 70 starts in nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. Pashos has remained on the second-team offense ahead of Trueblood, who made 84 starts over seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I think at any time whether I’ve been a starter or moving up in the ranks of the NFL, I’ve always just tried to be at my best and be the best I can for my club,” Pashos said Thursday. “That’s really what I’ve been focused on now. I’m trying to come in, get back to the player that I used to be, get used to football again and kind of contribute as best I can in any fashion that this club needs me.”
Pashos did not play in the NFL last season after being released by the Browns following surgery for a ruptured tendon in his left foot. He said he hoped all along to return to the league this season.
“I definitely wanted to give it my best effort one last time,” he said. “And so far, I’m pleased with it. I’m glad I put in the work. And I’m looking to improve every day now that I’m back in here. I’m happy with the opportunity.”
He has felt healthy during this camp, he said, and he has worked to pick up the Redskins’ offense while getting back into the groove of playing football again.
“It’s not riding a bike,” Pashos said. “It’s playing pro football. It takes work. Missing out on a year, there’s a lot of catching up to do. But with taking advantage of the most that we can do out here and showing up every day and taking advantage of all the work and the reps, it’s slowly coming along.”
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