Few quarterbacks succeed without a fantastic offensive line along with also the situation at Washington would be described as unsettled.
The ideal side of the line includes veterans Morgan Moses in the handle and Brandon Scherff at guard. Washington head coach Ron Rivera expressed optimism in both of these players, in addition to fourth-year heart Chase Roullier.
“That’s a very strong position, the center to the right side of our offensive line, we’re pretty excited about seeing that group come together,” the coach said on Tuesday.
The left side? That is a different story.
“The big questions being the left tackle and left guard, I think that’s a great question in terms of is there going to be the type of competition that you see on the left side,” Rivera said.
Last season Donald Penn and Ereck Flowers formed an unlikely dependable duo at left tackle and guard. This season Penn is out of the NFL and Flowers is playing for the Dolphins.
That means Washington is scrambling to fill the spots with a collection of young guys. Wes Schweitzer and Wes Martin seem most likely to compete for the left guard spot.
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Left tackle – the glamour position of the offensive line – might be the most interesting battle to watch. For much of the past 20 years, Washington showcased a premier player at left tackle. First it was Chris Samuels, then it was Trent Williams. Things ended poorly between the organization and Williams, but at least they ended. He’s now in San Francisco.
Expect a camp battle between fourth-round rookie Saahdiq Charles and third-year pro Geron Christian.
A third-round pick in 2018, Christian has two starts in two seasons and has been largely underwhelming. Maybe that could change?
“I’m real curious and interested to watch Geron Christian, I think he’s a really athletic guy who’s gotten some opportunities and has taken advantage of it,” Rivera said.
Curious and interested is better than indifferent and apathetic, so that’s good? At this point, Rivera has little choice but to be curious to watch Christian. Due to COVID-19, the coach didn’t get to see the tackle in any official workouts or minicamp, so what happens in the next few weeks will be the former Louisville Cardinal’s only chance to make an impression on the new Washington staff.
That leads everything to Charles, a talented player from LSU that served multiple suspensions in college. After the draft, Washington personnel boss Kyle Smith said the organization performed extensive research on Charles and that the club felt comfortable with his past.
Now Rivera is ready to see him on the field.
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“Saahdiq looked good. Big, athletic, powerful, a young guy, raw, a lot of talent. I think he’s a guy as he goes through the process, is going to build confidence. I think that’s one of the things too, you’ve got to learn the language and that’s probably the thing that slows most rookies down from getting on to the field quickly. But if Saahdiq can learn the language and understand the techniques that we’re teaching and be able to take both of those things and mesh them together, I think we might have a pretty good football player.”
It won’t help Charles that because of COVID the Washington team held no offseason workouts for rookies. Of course the team held plenty of Zoom meetings, but Zoom isn’t the same thing as the practice field.
“He had a pretty constructive offseason,” Rivera said of Charles. “He did a lot of positive things in terms of giving himself a chance.”
Here’s the truth: Rivera has been very clear he wants to play young players and develop long-term for the future. When Washington selected Charles there was talk of the left tackle of the future. If Charles can learn the lingo and specific vernacular to offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s system, the job is his.
Youth will be served on the other hand of the line, and it’s unclear if that is a good thing. Rivera isn’t even sure.
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