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Redskins Offensive Improvements: Josh LeRibeus

The former SMU Mustang didn’t live up to his third-round draft status in 2012, but his versatility and youth could still make him a productive Redskin starter as soon as this season

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It’s way too early to start throwing around the “b” (for “bust”) word for Josh LeRibeus. After all, he’s only been in the NFL for one season, during which he earned moderate praise when he stepped in for an injured Corey Lichtensteiger. On the other hand, a team that trades away three No. 1 picks and a No. 2 for one player, as the Redskins did for RG3, had better be getting a Day 1 starter when it drafts someone in the third round at a position of need.

LeRibeus, the 71st player taken in the 2012 draft, wasn’t that in 2012 of the Redskins. Not even close.

In his rookie season, the 6-3, 315-pound guard from Southern Methodist (where he was a teammate of fellow Redskins Richard Crawford and Aldrick Robinson) saw action in just five games, but didn’t see the field at all until Week 9.

Part of that could be Mike Shanahan’s man-crush on Lichtensteiger, who he drafted while still with the Denver Broncos and brought to Washington before the 2011 season. When your primary job is backing up the player your coach considers the best lineman on the team, you’re probably not going to see a ton of playing time under normal circumstances. LeRibeus did replace an injured Lichtensteiger during the playoff game against Seattle and more or less held his own.

LeRibeus was originally valued for his versatility in being able to play guard and center. But so can Lichtensteiger, and the Redskins’ signing this week of Kevin Matthews might be an indication the coaching staff doesn’t have total confidence in either should starting center Will Montgomery go down.

2012 stats

Excuse me, this is a lineman. He has no stats other than: Games played — 5; Games started — 0; and, Fumble recoveries: — 0. Move on, nothing to see here.

What are the odds he’s a factor in 2013?

It doesn’t bode well (for Leribeus) that Lichtensteiger signed a new four-year contract in the off-season. Still, there are no guarantees in the NFL.

According to a Bleacher Report writer's opinion, “Lichtensteiger’s contract is worth a modest $17.5 million and does not guarantee he will be the unquestioned starter heading into the season. A strong camp from LeRibeus could push Shanahan to make a decision at the wire and give the nod to the younger, healthier man.”

Health, versatility and familiarity with Shanahan’s system are huge assets for a Redskin offensive lineman, and LeRibeus has all three. For the time being, he at least provides quality depth along the offensive line — something the Redskins don’t have in abundance.

That alone virtually assure him a spot on the roster. And if age or injury gives him a chance to move into the starting lineup, it’s quite possible he settles in there for the next 10 years.