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Need to Know: Redskins’ Gruden looks for a second-year leap from Spencer Long

Mar 27, 2015, 5:15 AM EDT

Long-minicamp

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 27, 34 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter but I don’t have the tweet to embed as I normally do. I made a note of the question but forgot to paste the link or get the questioner’s name. But I thought it was a good question so I’m going to roll with it.

The questioner wanted to know what was up with Spencer Long last year. It seemed that right guard Chris Chester was ripe to be pushed to the bench. But Long was unable to do so despite Jay Gruden seemingly leaving the door open for him virtually the entire year.

Was Long still injured? His senior season at Nebraska ended in mid-October with a knee injury. It can take a full calendar year to get back up to full strength after such an injury and it’s possible that it still affected his play.

But Jay Gruden indicated this week that the issue wasn’t so much Long’s knee in and of itself but that he was unable to get into top shape because of it.

Here was Gruden’s assessment of the right guard spot when he was asked about it at the owners meetings in Phoenix earlier this week.

“Well, Chris Chester is still on the team and we expect Spencer Long to have an excellent offseason, come in in better shape. You you come from your rookie to your second year, that’s the biggest jump you have to make as a football player. It’s a big jump to get your feet wet . . . all the things that go into being a professional football player you learn as a rookie. Then in your second year you feel more comfortable coming in. We’re hoping that [tackle] Morgan [Moses] and Spencer alike make the transition into their second year and compete.”

So, clearly there are expectations for both of last year’s third-round picks. His knee being 100 percent will allow him to get into better shape. The natural progression that comes between a player’s first and second seasons should help even more.

But nothing is guaranteed for Long. As Gruden noted, Chester is still on the team. It had to be tempting for the Redskins to release the 32-year-old and pocket $4 million in salary cap savings.

But there is faith that can do the job; he’s played nearly every snap since joining the team in 2011. There is no faith yet in Long and until he earns the trust of Gruden, offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and GM Scot McCloughan he will remain on the bench.

Timeline

—It’s been 89 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 170 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 24; 2015 NFL Draft 34; Redskins training camp starts 125

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. abanig - Mar 27, 2015 at 5:57 AM

    I really think Ling is going to start this year and Compton will remain our starter at RT and they will both continue to play better and more consistent than their predecessors- Chester & Polumbus. I also that believe in time, probably more likely for the 2016 season, Moses will push Compton for the starting RT job and may take it from him.

    Then, when that happens, all the haters can shut up about how the 2014 Allen offseason was as bad as the Cerrato or Shanahan ones which came before him.

    I think it’s very, very possible Allen will get 5 starters or at least major contributors – Grant may not be a starter in two years but will be our slot WR – by the 2016 NFL season out of Allen’s 2014 NFL draft. He would have also gotten a #1 Wr, a #3 wr, a starting RG, and pro bowl caliber DE (when healthy).

    • captblood3000 - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      Moses is more athletic than Compton, and should thrive under Bill Callahan’s coaching. I expect Moses to take over the starting right tackle position sometime next season. Go back and watch him in the Niners game, and consider who he was working against.

    • deepball1 - Mar 27, 2015 at 2:01 PM

      Maybe you and all the experts are right. I don’t know. But when I saw Moses I saw a Huge man with slow feet. I would expect him to become a GUARD at some point. It wouldn’t be the first time a tackle was drafted pretty high and then converted later to guard…and became an all pro at that position. I just don’t think Moses can handle speed rushers. He couldn’t last season.

      • 214hof - Mar 27, 2015 at 2:33 PM

        I see a QB failing to hit the proper depth on his dropbacks thus, hanging his tackles out to dry… Then throwing them under the bus post game.

      • captblood3000 - Mar 28, 2015 at 10:58 PM

        I called out deepball before on this. Given all the pre-draft scouting reports on Moses available on the web, could he produce one that talked about “heavy feet”, or moving Moses to “GUARD”, as he suggests? Crickets. And deepball was confident in his opinions.

        So who should you believe, “the experts”, or deepball?

        I rewatched the Niners game specifically to watch Moses. Moses gave up two sacks, but one of those was as hof describes: Griffin backed out of a clean pocket, both tackles were at the same depth, and Moses’ man helped himself. The other sack was on Moses, I think. Moses was not great in that game, but he was promising if you paid attention.

  2. troylok - Mar 27, 2015 at 6:22 AM

    I wonder if maybe the Redskins have been just a little too conservative in rolling over the offensive line roster. LeRibeus seems to be capable of starting, but they go out and sign Lauvao. Long could take the job from Chester, but they stick with Chester. They waited a long time before they pulled Polumbus. Offensive linemen, need the reps in game situations to get better. It’s hard for a young player coming in to bump a veteran unless the team makes the switch based on potential of the young player and not where they are at the moment they step on the field having never played a down of NFL football. Hopefully, Callahan will make some changes here philosophically. They did start young players in Dallas when he was there.

    Another thing, is anyone happy with Lichtensteiger at center? He represents the lighter, more agile type of offensive lineman that Shanahan needed for his zone-block-and-crack-back-block type of running game. He’s a good center, but he’s not a mauler. He doesn’t move nose tackles out of the way.

    • captblood3000 - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:32 AM

      The Redskins signed Tyler Larsen as a free agent developmental center. He’s 315 pounds and could be their future starting center. They like Lichtensteiger so other line positions have priority.

    • deepball1 - Mar 27, 2015 at 2:06 PM

      I agree with troylok completely about this turnover in the offensive line. Why keep drafting all these lower round picks and then keep them from playing? What is the point? If they can’t play…if you don’t trust them…CUT THEM AND MOVE ON. Otherwise…play them and see what they have.

      Especially with Leribeus. He started one game 2 years ago and appeared to be able to handle it. Then last year he came into camp in good shape…and suddenly he is not allowed to play. WHY? Was that just because Gruden did not want to be embarassed that Josh may outplay Lauvao so they kept Josh on the bench? It certainly seems like that might have been the case.

      We have THREE 3rd round draft picks on the offensive line and NONE of them started last year. I trust draft decisions will be better now that Scott M is in charge because Bruce and Gruden have no clue.

    • brucefan1 - Mar 27, 2015 at 2:36 PM

      I agree with most of what you say troylok — except maybe about LeRibeus being ready to start. Of course, it’s well well-documented that Josh came into camp in 2013 woefully overweight — and that reportedly put him WEIGH behind the 8-Ball (ya see what I did there? hehe).

      Even tho he came into camp in ’14 in better shape, some say after that Josh’s total dedication to “busting his hump” for the game was being questioned. Hopefully he has gotten past all that and is ready to take a BIG step up. (But then, he only suited up for 7 games last season — even tho healthy — so he may still have a long way to go!)

      Also, about playing an OL’man based on “potential”; I have heard it reported that most NFL teams are loath to do that — because all that “potential” may just get a ball-handler KILLED! LOL

      Coaches probably will start a guy only if he’s their best option on THAT day, not so much on speculation on how good he might be in the future. (Along those lines — I gotta wonder if Callahan started those young Dallas OL’men because of their POTENTIAL…or cuz they were SO dang GOOD!!)

      • bowlregard - Mar 27, 2015 at 3:36 PM

        Last year the Pats reworked their OL. It struggled early, and then BB put in two rookies. The Giants, until lately, have always had a good line rebuilt on the fly. I don’t know whether it’s more drafting than coaching, but I feel better now that the Skins have overhauled both their drafting and coaching.

    • jtaylor68 - Mar 27, 2015 at 10:17 PM

      Troy, you make a great point about our team, I will say, “hesitating” to play the younger/new editions on the O- line. Why do other teams put those kind of guys in ?, because they will learn more from their mistakes playing in a game than going against 2nd and 3rd teamers in practice and they are not over-protecting the big investment(QB). I we drafted these guys based on their ranking and our team need, why does it take years to consider playing them. Based on what I saw from the center to RT, we ran out of time long ago. Play these guy’s and let go of the past.

  3. babyteal1 - Mar 27, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Put the kid in the game. Let’s stop living in the past with this Chester clown. Move forward and if Long fails he fails. I’m so tried of this team drafting young guys and doing nothing with them. Gruden frustrates the hell out of me.

  4. mr.moneylover - Mar 27, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    I really want the redskins to take CB kevin Johnson from wake forest…hes really good he attack the ball when its in the air and hes a thumper the boy can lay some big hits…I hope he falls into the second round…I got my fingers crossed

    • deepball1 - Mar 27, 2015 at 2:13 PM

      Cornerback has been addressed. It is not THE priority. The Skins have 5 veterans competing for 2 starting spots and I there are several other corners on the roster and I am sure that the Skins will pick up another veteran corner after June1 cuts.

      I am sure Scott M will draft a big cornerback because he like BIG. But currently I feel good about the corner position.

      • skinsgame - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:42 PM

        What does that have to do with anything? If there is a CB that is BPA, he’ll take him. The draft isn’t about this year, it’s about the year after next.

  5. mr.moneylover - Mar 27, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    I got louis Nixon winning the spot at right tackle and I think spencer long will get a shot to start…I think lebrius get cut… morgan moses will ride the bench some more since he coming off a injury

    • captblood3000 - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:54 AM

      The only Nixon on the roster is Xavier Nixon. He’s a project, and, arguably, a knucklehead.

  6. mr.moneylover - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:01 AM

    I do think chester still get cut …but why cut him now ? Bring him into training camp see if he look different see if he play better then he did last year if bill dont like what he see then I think bill c. Will cut him….its nothing better for a coach then to have options and competition and thats the memo this off-season…last year jobs was given to players this offseason its gonna be a dog fight to the end with multiple roster spots up for grabs…RG RT 3rdAND 4thWR TE S LB perry Riley not a starter and jay gruden said they might try to get a couple of LBs in the draft…contract dont matter nomore if they dont play at a high level on the field scot m. Gonna cut them or they will be riding the bench….training camp gonna be really intense this year especially when scot m. Watching on the side seeing if there need to upgrade a position or not

    • Stephfan - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:08 AM

      Perry won’t lmao the funniest thing I’ve seen. Ok ok he can’t cover but he is still a good tackler and lb

    • deepball1 - Mar 27, 2015 at 2:19 PM

      Riley has 337 tackles over the last 3 seasons. Considering the defensive line has been injured and bad at times, considering Haslett put people in the wrong positions, considering the defensive scheme was a READ AND REACT instead of attacking…..I think Riley has done a Hell of a job.

      The Skins can draft a rookie linebacker but just because you don’t like the way Riley can’t cover wide receivers, don’t expect a rookie to start. Haslett had Riley covering a WIDE RECEIVER down the field last season. That is insane….INSANE……and some of you are blaming Perry Riley for not being a qualilty cornerback That’s stupid.

  7. Stephfan - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Alot of you are forgetting one thing… Chester might excel in this system if they switch to a power scheme… What type of running style did they run in Baltimore?? I believe it was a power base, and Chester was solid

    • captblood3000 - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:37 AM

      Chester regressed last year. The Skins thought that Long had the 2014 season to heal and learn.

      • Stephfan - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        Ok captblood, but your still missing what I said. Last year’s offense was not a true power scheme and I think that this year it will be. Second Chester was a better power blocker than zone. And lastly Chester may have regressed in the zone scheme, it could’ve been injuries, age, or whatever but let’s see if he can excel in this power scheme before he gets cut

        • captblood3000 - Mar 27, 2015 at 10:01 AM

          Let me correct myself then. Chester regressed in 2013 and regressed further in 2014. I thought he was the Skins’ weakest link in pass protection. We’ll see if Bill Callahan can bring Chester back to form.

        • Stephfan - Mar 27, 2015 at 10:48 AM

          Ok capt but if you are one of the guys thinking long has a shot then I don’t know what to tell you.. I’m not a fan of either. But I do think that Chester will be better in a power blocking scheme, that’s the point I was making

        • 214hof - Mar 27, 2015 at 11:53 AM

          How do you figure that Chester is more suited for the power blocking scheme? He certainly isn’t “powerful”. Back when he played for Bmore he was replaced by someone who was, he became their utility man on the interior of the line. (primary BACKUP for G/C) Shanny picked him up because his “strengths” were his versatile, and mobility (works well in ZB). Not something you look for in a man blocking scheme. That plus his age, cap number, and his ineffectiveness as of late lead me to believe that if Long comes into camp in shape and ready to compete he’ll seize the spot and Chester will be cut before the season starts.

        • Stephfan - Mar 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM

          Ok 214 so you I wacthed Baltimore games when he started and he played ok

        • redskinscaio - Mar 27, 2015 at 11:56 AM

          AJ McCann, Guard, 335 pounder in the 2nd or 3rd round? yea? Yea? Hmm? Maybe? Yea? ok

        • 214hof - Mar 27, 2015 at 12:09 PM

          No… But if he was such a good fit for that scheme why was he replaced and relegated to backup duties? May I remind you that was going 5 years ago as well… An eternity in NFL time.

        • Stephfan - Mar 27, 2015 at 1:10 PM

          Ok capt..

      • deepball1 - Mar 27, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        I believe they kept Chester for competition. He is not guaranteed to make the roster. It is OBVIOUS they want Long to become the starter…and if that’s the case….Chester could stick as a backup because he also plays center. There is the key….Chester may stick around as the swing guard and center.

        But if they draft a Center/guard……I expect Chester may just end up gone.

        • captblood3000 - Mar 28, 2015 at 11:18 PM

          This year’s guard class is deep, the center class is shallow. It’s doubtful that any center will be at the top of Redskins’ Board when they pick. That’s why they signed Larsen. The Redskins are more likely to pick a guard, and if they do so and like what they see in Larsen, Long and the new guard, they may cut Chester. Lots of dependencies here though.

    • skinsgame - Mar 27, 2015 at 9:45 PM

      Chester gets routinely mangled at the line. He’s not a mauler. He’s my sister.

  8. clove264 - Mar 27, 2015 at 10:18 PM

    I understand now why they didn’t try Long last season they thought that his injuries wasn’t completely healed and so he played as a person who wasn’t up to strength. These young guys need to be in shape to really compete for a starting job with some coaching, so now he can get the instructions he needs to maybe try to start and then either Chester can be the swing guy or he can be cut after the OTA’s and still save some money on the cap.

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