RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC) — Redskins coach Jay Gruden described offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger as a natural center earlier in training camp.
The quote had the whiff of a backhanded compliment to Lichtensteiger, who was the starting left guard for Washington the past four seasons – one of those cut short by injury – but is now adjusting to a full time move to center.
“I don’t know. ‘Natural’ center? I think I’m more of a natural center because I’m only 6-2,” Lichtensteiger joked. “You can’t be a ‘natural’ anything else on the offensive line. But you try to use your quickness and speed and brains. Just try to be in the right spot.”
After a rough first day on July 24, where the weather played havoc with the quarterback-center exchange, Lichtensteiger is making progress toward that goal. A center coming out of Bowling Green in 2008, he’s spent the majority of his career at guard and started the last 32 games there for the Redskins.
“It’s not easy sometimes for a guard to move into center, but [Lichtensteiger is] a natural center in my opinion,” Gruden said last week. “He’s got great movement obviously, he’s done good with the calls, and of course the snaps have been solid. We had two fumbled snaps the first day in the rain, other than that, in the OTAs and today, everything has been clean. I am very happy with Kory’s progress.”
Lichtensteiger put on weight during the offseason and is now listed at 6-2, 296, up from his listed 284 pounds in 2013. He has played center in a handful of preseason games and found himself there during a regular season game against Cleveland in 2012 when starter Will Montgomery got hurt.
Otherwise, his experience at that spot is limited to practice reps. Lichtensteiger is responsible for calling out blocking assignments and making sure linemates Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus – plus any reserves forced into action – are all on the same page.
Lichtensteiger has been a mainstay in Washington since 2010, starting 51 of 53 games that he was healthy enough to appear in. Lichtensteiger’s 2011 season was cut short five games into it when he tore his ACL and MCL and his meniscus. It made for an arduous recovery period of almost eight months, but he was ready in time for the following season and hasn’t missed a game since. The position change isn’t an easy assignment. But he’s ready for the challenge.
“I’ve been playing in the NFL for a while so I already know what kind of speed and competition you’re going against every day,” Lichtensteiger said. “But it’s different trying to transport a football from Point A to Point B before you do anything else. It’s been fun, though. I like it.”
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