Over the next two weeks, CSNWashington.com Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2012 and evaluate its outlook for 2013. Yesterday, we looked atoffensive tackles. Today, it’s the interior offensive line.
2012 starters: LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester
Key reserves: Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt
Key free agents: Lichtensteiger
What was supposed to be a weak area for the Redskins turned out to be quite good. Lichtensteiger, Montgomery, and Chester were the core of the line for the team that led the NFL in rushing. Montgomery in particular was solid in run blocking and he allowed just one sack all year.
Montgomery in particular was a favorite of the guys who evaluate players for the website Pro Football Focus.
“His name is rarely mentioned when you think of top centers, but when he’s been used at the spot he’s rarely disappointed,” they wrote. “2012 has been no different.”
Chester was the iron man of the group as he played every one of the team’s 1,118 offensive snaps. Montgomery missed just six snaps despite suffering a second-degree MCL sprain in Week 16.
Lichtensteiger missed most of training camp and all of the preseason games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the same one he injured in 2011 putting him on injured reserve for the last 11 games of the season. But he was back and in good form for the regular season and did a solid job although his performance in the run game was spotty.
When Lichtensteiger went out of the Week 17 playoff game against the Cowboys with an ankle injury, LeRibeus came in and played about 21 snaps. Then Lichtensteiger left the playoff game against the Seahawks in the first quarter after reinjuring the anle and LeRibeus again came in and held his own.
Hurt saw a few snaps at guard but he filled in for a concussed Tyler Polumbus at right tackle in Week 16. It looks like he is developing value as a utility lineman. Gettis was on the 53-man roster all year but was inactive for every game.
Chester and Montgomery are both under contract for 2013. Chester’s salary is $3 million with a total cap hit of $4.3 million and Montgomery will make $1.85 million with a hit of $2.837 million. Chester just turned 30 and Montgomery will turn 30 next month. As of right now, there is every reason to believe that those two will be back in the starting lineup in 2013. They will be in their third year of starting next to each other and there seems to be no reason to make a change.
Lichtensteiger is an unrestricted free agent and that situation bears watching. If the Redskins pay him starter money his salary would be pushed into the range of where Chester and Montgomery are. That would not an astronomical amount of money to pay your interior line but a team dealing with an $18 million salary cap penalty has to look to save where it can.
And left guard might be one of those areas. For his part, Lichtensteiger wants to come back.
"I hope I’m here still. I honestly do hope that,” he said the day after the playoff loss to the Seahawks. “I don’t want to leave this system, I don’t want to leave these coaches and I don’t want to leave my teammates. So the best-case scenario for me is that I get a new deal here.”
Lichtensteiger is smart enough to know, however, that he might have to look elsewhere. “You have to explore all the options," he said.
If a starting job does not open up, LeRibeus, Hurt, and Gettis will spend another year working on the scout team and staying ready should someone get injured.