Countdown to OTAs: Battle at right tackle

Countdown to OTAs: Battle at right tackle
May 18, 2013, 6:45 am
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Next Monday, Redskins Park will be abuzz as organized team activities (OTAs) get underway. For the first time since January, the parking lots will be completely full. The practice fields, weight and locker rooms will be, too, as coaches, veteran players and prospects officially begin their preparations for the 2013 NFL season.

In the meantime, we’re going to address some of the offseason-related questions we’re hearing from fans. Up today...

Question: Who’s going to win the competition at right tackle? 

Anwser: In March, Tyler Polumbus visited Jacksonville and left with a contract offer. A couple of days days later, though, he re-signed for two seasons with the Redskins.

Do you think Polumbus would have spurned the Jaguars – a team where he had connections to a few key coaches – if he believed he might lose his job in Washington to Jeremy Trueblood or Tony Pashos, veteran right tackles who had signed as free agents a few days earlier?

Yeah, we don't think so, either.

“Ultimately, we decided D.C. is where we needed to be,” Polumbus told CSNWashington.com in March. Coach Mike “Shanahan has always been good to me. I think he provides me with the best opportunity to be the right tackle I know I can be.”

Polumbus has been on a Shanahan coached team in four of his five NFL seasons, dating back to 2008 when he was signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent. And last season, the 28-year-old also started 15 games along an offensive line that paved the way for the NFL’s top rushing offense.

He did struggle in pass protection in 2012, his first season as a fulltime starter. But he also impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic as well as the improvement he displayed throughout the season. Shanahan also values continuity along the O-line; with Polumbus in the fold, all five starters from ’12 remain in place. It should also be noted that Shanahan did not draft a tackle last month in a draft that was deep at the position.

That’s not to say Polumbus can’t get beaten out by Trueblood or Pashos. Competition within a team is a key component to success in the NFL – and there’s definitely going to be a competition at right tackle over the next few months.

But it also seems clear that Polumbus is set to enter OTAs next week on the inside track to reclaiming his job.

Best-case scenario: Polumbus wins the job, continues to become more consistent from game-to-game and gets better in pass protection.

Worst-case scenario: Polumbus struggles and neither Trueblood nor Pashos are the answer, either.