When the Washington Redskins signed former New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers in the winter, the idea was to move him to left guard. Though he had not worked out well as a tackle in New York, they believed that as the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, he had enough talent and ability to be a starter inside.
Then the offseason workouts came and Washington was so short on tackles that Flowers had to play tackle again. The results, at least in the practices open to the media, were not good. But the team remains committed to playing him at guard this season and may even be expecting him to start.
“Oh yeah, I think so,” assistant head coach Bill Callahan, who coaches the offensive line, said during minicamp when asked if he planned to open camp with Flowers as the top left guard.
Callahan was a proponent of the Flowers signing, which was seen as something of a surprise given the fact the Giants gave up on him last fall, moving him from left to right tackle and eventually releasing him in October. It’s not always easy to find 6-foot-6 offensive linemen with the strength and quickness that Flowers has. Callahan imagined Flowers transitioning well to left guard — a position the Redskins have struggled to fill in recent years.
“I see a lot of potential when we’ve moved tackles inside,” he said, mentioning former reserve lineman Ty Nsekhe’s occasional switches to guard as an example.
He said Flowers looked impressive the few times he was at guard in OTAs.
“I think it gives us size, it gives us power, I think those are really good traits for the running attack and pass protection,” Callahan continued. “He’s long, he’s square, obviously he can play in the short area so those are things we kind of identified during free agency that we liked and we are trying to fit him into that mode. So it’s been a work in progress, we got a long ways to go yet, but he’s made a nice transition.”
The challenge, he said, will be getting Flowers to adjust to the faster pace at which guards often play. Since they have a smaller area to protect, the rush comes at them faster than at tackle, where players have more time to set their feet for the rush that usually starts on the outside of the defensive line. But he added that Flowers has the ability to make the adjustment well.
The offensive line should be one of the Redskins’ positions of strength, but injuries and a lack of depth have made the position a significant question mark. Right guard Brandon Scherff and center Chase Roullier are expected back for training camp after recovering from surgeries. Bigger questions are the availability of left tackle Trent Williams, who refused to attend minicamp due to frustration with the team’s medical staff, and his backup Geron Christian, who is still recovering from surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament in his knee.
If Williams returns for camp, as some around the team have said they expect he will, Flowers will be able to move back to guard and the team’s experiment with him there can continue again.