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Backup Offensive Linemen On Showcase

Posted Aug 27, 2014

With head coach Jay Gruden wanting to see the depth that the Redskins have, several backup offensive linemen are looking forward to proving their value in Thursday's preseason game in Tampa.

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden told the media on Tuesday that one of the main goals for Thursday’s game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is to see how deep the team's roster is.

“We feel pretty good about who (the starters) are,” Gruden said. “Now, we need to find the key backups and who they are and make sure they get the ample reps to make the football team and show what they can do on the field.”

Of the many competitive battles raging on the roster, a key one is at offensive line, where the Redskins currently have 12 lineman vying for jobs.

Here’s what some of the Redskins listed as second and third teamers on the team’s unofficial depth chart are saying before Thursday’s game:

Appearing in eight games at guard as a rookie, Maurice Hurt showed off his versatility during the 2012 season when he made a key start in place of Tyler Polumbus at right tackle vs. Philadelphia in Week 16.

On Thursday, Hurt – listed as a right tackle on the depth chart – wants to show the coaching staff that he’s still a player that can be effective in several positions after missing all of last season due to injury.

“Since I came into the league, I’ve kind of been known as a versatile guy,” Hurt said. “I've just been trying to become better at it, working the different techniques and becoming better at each position that I’m asked to play.

“Right now I’m asked to play tackle, so that’s what I’m doing, but if I’m asked to play guard, I can do that as well. It’s about trying to work on your techniques and being to do it all.”

The 6-foot-3, 329-pounder also said that the game vs. Tampa Bay will continue to serve as a progress report.

“Sitting out a whole year, I got a little rusty,” he admitted. “I mean, I worked on everything – feet, hands, conditioning – everything, just getting back into football and become a professional again is my goal.

“So, just tightening up on things and, like I said, just being able to go out there and do whatever I’m asked to do.”

Drafted by the Redskins in 2012 after logging 43 starts at South Dakota, Tom Compton received his first major regular-season action last season, appearing in 15 games after spending the majority of the 2012 season on the practice squad.

After taking the step to full-time member of the active roster last season, Compton said his jump in performance from 2012 to now has been significant.

“There’s a lot of things I’ve improved on,” he said. “It’s hard to say one thing specifically, but with getting reps, game gets slowed down for you and you recognize guys’ different habits.

“When you can get a better understanding of the offense, you can work more on your technique and not have to worry about assignment as much.”

When asked what he wants to accomplish Thursday, Compton said he wants to show that he’s physically and mentally sharp entering the season.

“I want to play smart and play tough,” Compton explained. “Obviously I haven’t made it yet so there’s a lot of things I need to do, whether it be in the run or pass game. I’m always working hard every day to improve on any little thing that I can.”

Unlike most of the guys in the linemen room, Tevita Stevens’ dream took route as a college free agent.

Unselected in the 2013 NFL Draft, Stevens joined the Redskins in May that year and eventually fought his way to a practice squad spot.

With a better understanding of how to prepare himself as a professional, Stevens said a lot of what’s going on this season is “second nature.”

“I have a better grasp and knowledge of the offense,” he said. “Better experience of having a year under the belt, just making better reads and seeing what the defense is doing easier.”

Stevens, listed at 6-foot-3, 302 pounds, is currently the second center on the depth chart behind Kory Lichtensteiger.

He said that whether they ask him to play exclusively center or mix in a few snaps at guard as well, he’s ready to showcase his ability to be easily interchangeable.

“Having played center and guard all the way from high school, being able to move the inside three, I think it is just one of those things you have to do as an offensive lineman my size,” he said. “I'm definitely trying to go out there and compete and make the final roster. That is always the goal.”

After putting a 2013 season that was marred by injury and an improper level of conditioning behind him, Josh LeRibeus has been a bright spot for the offensive line since training camp opened up.

Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams noted that LeRibeus, a third-year offensive lineman, had one of the better performances in Richmond.

With conditioning not a concern this preseason for the former Sothern Methodist Mustang, LeRibeus said he’s been working with offensive line coach Chris Foerster on improving certain techniques.

“Getting my one-two and setting foot down,” he said. “Don’t lean but punch with your hand, it’s the little things like that we’ve been working on.”

In fact, LeRibeus believes he’s in a better position physically now than he’s ever been -- and wants to prove it vs. Tampa.

“I’ve just stayed in the playbook so I know what I’m doing,” he said. “I want to dominate, be physical, finish every play and use technique as much as possible.”

Spencer Long, a rookie guard with the Redskins, admitted that his play at times during the preseason hasn’t been as good as he wants it, but said he’s already seen things on film that will make correcting mistakes easier.

“I made a few mental mistakes,” Long said after the preseason game vs. Baltimore. “For whatever reason, I was getting things mixed up and that is just something I need to clean up.

“I thought I played good against Cleveland, but that is something I have to learn from. I will not play a perfect game every time.”

Going into the preseason finale with mixed results, the former Nebraska Cornhusker just wants to find stability in his performance before the regular season starts.

“I just need to do my job consistently and as much as I can and also put some good plays together and go the extra mile,” Long said.

While Morgan Moses learns from Williams on a daily basis as to how an elite offensive lineman prepares to play in the NFL -- while competing against Pro Bowl linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan -- the rookie knows getting in reps against a different team is important.

“Being able to go against different defenses and doing some different things is really helping me a lot,” Moses said. “Because it’s allowing me to see things on the field during the preseason and getting these reps on the field means a lot.”

Moses suffered a knee injury in Saturday's game vs. the Ravens, but was full go in practices this week. He said if he's ready to go Thursday, he's just going to continue to try to take advantage of his opportunities.

"Whether it’s a practice, walkthrough or a game, I just (want to) let the coaches know that I know the playbook and I’m trying to get better every day," he said.




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