We will be featuring a different Washington Redskins player each day on this list, staying away from rookies or some second-year players still finding their way. This will focus primarily on veterans at or near a career crossroads. Today: guard Chris Chester.
Why he has something to prove: He is coming off a tough season, he would save the Redskins $2.7 million in cap space and the team has two young alternatives behind him. Chester has never been a great player, but two years ago he was mostly solid. Then, the line benefited from multiple factors that helped their play: the scheme, a quarterback who could fool defenses with his play fakes and a strong running game that capitalized on the line’s ability to move. But like the others last season, Chester struggled when it became a one-on-one game with a lot of dropbacks -- and few targets capable of winning quickly. Chester is adept at moving laterally, but got himself in trouble against stronger players. Despite his play, the Redskins did not take him out of the lineup (he wasn’t the only one on offense having issues). But they drafted Spencer Long in the third round and have praised Josh LeRibeus for his offseason. It’s a lot to ask a rookie to start immediately, let alone one who missed most of his senior season. But they do like Long. If LeRibeus ever wants to be good, this is the year he asserts himself. But this means Chester must prove he’s not only better, but that he will still be that way throughout the season. Again, they could save money by cutting him.
What he must do: He’s not going to get much stronger or quicker. So he has to play the savvy vet role and hope the offense doesn’t require a lot of deep drops that take 3.0 seconds to pass. That was part of the problem a year ago, compounded by a quarterback in Robert Griffin III who was unable to develop in the offseason. Chester typically plays with a good base and consistent fundamentals. He also shows good awareness in protection. Occasionally he would try to help right tackle Tyler Polumbus, but by doing so would knock the rusher into a better position -- leading to a sack. Chester has to return to the level of consistency he showed in 2012, especially in the second half of that season. Again, the style of offense will help. Offensive lines are aided greatly by: receivers who win quickly; quarterbacks who make good, quick decisions and a scheme that doesn’t put them in bad spots. They have the receivers to win that way. Griffin can help with his reads, though that will be aided by the receivers winning sooner as well. It all works together. But Griffin will always extend plays when possible, so not every pass will be thrown in a hurry.
Projection: For now, Chester is the starter. And there could be a distinct difference between he and the two likely challengers for his job. It’s hard to know that not having seen LeRibeus play since last August and knowing that Long is a rookie and has a lot to learn. Both have to prove that Chester doesn’t warrant a spot. But Chester has to prove that he’s worth keeping around after a tough season.