- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Taking a look at the key ongoing battles for Washington Redskins roster spots. Today we check in on the offensive line:
Projected number: This is a little like the NCAA basketball tournament projections, except that you can't see me moving names around on my whiteboard. Considering I don't own a whiteboard, you're not missing much. As of now, I'm projecting eight players make the cut here.
Locks: LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus. No surprises considering this was the starting line last year and has been the starting line throughout training camp. There was no real challenge to Polumbus, despite two veterans being signed in the offseason. Besides, Polumbus would be a lock as a swing tackle if nothing else.
Looking good: T Tom Compton, G Josh LeRibeus, G Adam Gettis. Both Compton and Gettis have progressed a great deal compared to this time last season; I really like Compton's development. He’s much stronger and is more able to control blocks in both the run and pass game. He had his best game versus Pittsburgh, blocking rookie first-round pick Jarvis Jones. The more Compton develops, the more I could see him challenging Polumbus someday. Gettis has improved in the run game, an area in which he struggled last year. He blocks with an attitude and is stronger than expected given that he’s a smaller guard. He has a knack for anchoring in pass protection despite getting stood up. I would love to have seen him against starters, but he did his job against the backups. LeRibeus improved in the past two games after a really bad opener, which followed a bad offseason in which the coaches were unhappy with his conditioning. But he was a third-round pick last season, and they liked how he played in relief of Lichtensteiger during the playoff loss to Seattle.
On the bubble: T Tony Pashos, C Kevin Matthews, G/T Maurice Hurt. Really, the only guy who might be kept from this category is Pashos. Hurt likely will open on the physically unable to perform list, so he’ll stick around. If I had to pick right now, I’d probably keep Pashos off the list. I like parts of his game: He’s aggressive with his hands, much more than the other tackles. He’s strong. But I did not see him moving as well as the other tackles, a byproduct perhaps of his ankle issues from 2011. If the Redskins feel Compton has progressed that much, then they have a backup right tackle (it’s not as hard of an adjustment going from left to right). This would leave them without a veteran backup, which could be an issue. They kept Sean Locklear two years ago and Jordan Black last year. It’s a leap of faith with the youngsters, and that could be Pashos' best hope. He has improved after missing all of last season, but I'm not sure it will be enough. They could keep a one-position player if there was no alternative, but with Compton's ascension, I think they have one. Really, the decision to keep Pashos could come down to whether or not they keep six receivers and/or five running backs. These coaches like skill players.