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Adding Center Duties Aiding Spencer Long’s Development

Posted Jun 16, 2016

Not only is Spencer Long competing for the starting left guard position this year, he’s playing some center as well. It’s helping him get a better grasp of the offense.

Not only is Spencer Long competing for the starting left guard position this year, he’s playing some center as well. It’s helping him get a better grasp of the offense.

Spencer Long has been practicing at left guard and center for the Washington Redskins this offseason as the coaching staff contemplates where the Nebraska product fits best along the offensive line.

Long split first-team reps with Arie Kouandjio at left guard and even took reps with the second-team at center, the first time he’s received practice time there since entering the NFL.

Long, a 2014 third-round, took over the starting left guard spot in Week 4 last season when Shawn Lauvao broke his ankle.

With Lauvao on the mend and Kouandjio still in the fight for a starting position, Long has quite a bit of competition to once again start at left guard.

“Whatever the lineup is, I’m prepared to do my job,” Long said. “But nothing is set in stone, in this league especially, and you know Shawn is coming back from an injury, so it’s always super competitive.”

The coaching staff is also preparing Long to play center, an added responsibility that has improved Long’s grasp on the offense. Learning a new position -- particularly center -- takes time, but Long believes it will help with his long-term development.

“You’re forced to (know the offense) because you have to make all the calls, you have to know what everybody is doing,” Long said. “It’s not like I didn’t have a grasp of the offense at left guard but you have to go out there and visualize it and actually verbalize it fast. It really helps you grows and become more confident with your calls and what the big picture of the offense is.”

The coaching staff was pleased with how Long and his fellow linemen adjusted to sudden changes last year. Not only was Lauvao lost for the season early, veteran center Kory Lichtensteiger missed significant time, too.

“I love the way Spencer came on at the end of the year,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “It’s good to have two good guys at that position.”

While Long is showing a natural progression over time, he wouldn’t be where he is right now without offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

“Words can’t describe how good of a coach Bill Callahan is and how much he’s helped me in both positions,” Long said. “This spring, just breaking down the whole offense, making you go step by step, even though it’s the same offense we had last year, he does a great job of getting back into it.”

While learning center is an ongoing process, Long is confident his mental repetitions have prepared him no matter where he ends up playing along the line this season.

“Really right now for me, the most challenging part was getting that center position down,” Long said. “Mentally I had a lot more invested, because I had a lot more experience at left guard. It took a lot more energy to learn that center spot. I had to focus on both, but it really helped me in the big picture. I learned a lot these OTAs and it’s been nothing but good for me and I’ll do whatever they ask in the fall.”

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