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Redskins Will Have 'Great Competition' At Left Guard

Posted Mar 30, 2016

Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long and even Arie Kouandjio are capable of being the Redskins' starting left guard in 2016. Head coach Jay Gruden believes the position will be one to watch moving forward.

Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long and even Arie Kouandjio are capable of being the Redskins' starting left guard in 2016. Head coach Jay Gruden believes the position will be one to watch moving forward.

With multiple players potentially cracking into the starting lineup at left guard this season, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believes the team will have “great” competition at the position this season.

Last season, both Shawn Lauvao and Spencer Long started at left guard for the Redskins, with Lauvao being the Opening Day starter before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery.

In the last few months, though, Lauvao has had a total of five surgeries, two of which he said were major.

“Just very humbling, man,” Lauvao said of the months since suffering the injury Week 3 against the New York Giants. “Just taking a step back and just kind of evaluating some things. Otherwise, like I said, you have appreciation for the game, just for your coaches and your peers. Just the kind of effort and time it takes just to play this game.”  

After Lauvao went down, Long, a 2014 third-round pick, filled in, making his first career start along with helping the Redskins win their second NFC East title in four seasons.

Gruden believes the starting situation will ultimately depend on Lauvao’s health.

“Shawn was actually playing very well before he got hurt, then Spencer came in and had his struggles early, but the more he played, the better he got and that’s usually the case with young, athletic linemen that are big, they just need to play,” Gruden said at the annual NFL Owners Meeting earlier this month. “So it’ll be a great competition there, and you hate to say that you could ever lose your job due to injury, however it’s a fact in the NFL, if you get hurt, you give somebody else the chance to play and they play well, there’s a good chance you could lose your job. So we’ll have to wait and see, it’s a good problem to have.”

Long opened training camp as the team’s starting right guard, next to first-round pick Brandon Scherff, who was playing tackle.

But in the second week of training camp, the coaching staff made a lineup adjustment, moving Scherff to guard while moving Morgan Moses into the starting lineup.

While Long would have to wait nearly two months to get back into the starting lineup, he settled in well by season’s end.

“Spencer did a fine job,” Gruden said at the NFL Combine. “He did a good job coming in. He’s mainly a right guard moved over to left guard. Like I said, Callahan did a great job with him. I think he grew into the position and played very well also.”

Another possibility could be Arie Kouandjio, a 2015 fourth-round pick who appeared in three games during the 2015 season.

The 6-foot-5, 310 pounder spent his collegiate career with Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide earn two BCS National Championships behind 27 starts.

Even though he appeared on just one offensive snap during the season, Kouandjio believes that his work in practices alone made him a better player.

“I took a step up on a lot of my technique,” Kouandjio said. “I mean, Coach Callahan has so much knowledge and he gave me a lot of that; a lot of technique on pass blocking and outside zone running.”

 Gruden added that he really likes what he’s seen out of Kouandjio so far.

“He’s a guy that didn’t really get a chance to play, too,” Gruden said. “So we have good depth on the line if Shawn does come back and we’ll have to address what we’re going to do going forward at a later time.”   

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