Offensive line coach Chris Foerster faces the challenge of upgrading his unit without any high-impact additions in the offseason. In an interview following Wednesday’s minicamp practice, he addressed a wide range of topics, including having the entire first-string back from last season, Tyler Polumbus filling in at left guard for Kory Lichtensteiger and what RG3 means to his group. Enjoy.
Q: What are your impressions of how the first string performed during OTAs and minicamp?
CF: “First group, I’m real happy with. We didn’t have Kory [Lichtensteiger, left guard] out there. He’s still recovering from his [right knee] injury, so he just did limited work. But Tyler Polumbus filled in well. The rest of the time we had all our guys there. It was good. We really developed good chemistry and camaraderie going out there. It’s familiar to us now going through it, so I think we picked up right where we left off when we had the group together.
Q: How do you feel like right tackle Jammal Brown responded to coach Mike Shanahan’s challenge at the end of last season to improve his flexibility and range of motion?
CF: “Jammal has done everything we’ve asked and more to get himself ready to have a great season. So we’re looking forward to it. He has done a good job.”
Q: What have you noticed from left tackle Trent Williams, considering he was suspended for the last four games of 2011?
CF: “Trent has come in and worked very, very hard this offseason – harder than he has ever worked. I think he’s in the best shape of his life. He has worked hard every single day to correct any fundamental problems and things he’s had. I feel good about his work.”
Q: What challenges did you face this offseason in trying to establish more depth on the line?
CF: “We ran into it last year. I told the guys in the room, ‘We didn’t have an offseason last year.’ Then [rookies] Willie [Smith] and Mo Hurt are playing 500 snaps or more in the season. You just don’t know. Every guy, you work with him and develop him. He could be a free agent on the roster or a draft pick. It’s a lot of competition right now for those backup spots?”
Q: Do you have a different sense of the competition this year?
CF: “They’re still young. There are a few more guys. You look at Polumbus, who can step into the starting lineup and give us good work. You have Mo, you have Willie – they played a lot last year. You have Erik Cook, who played some [center and guard] last year. So you have good experience to go along with some good young players who are developing, as well, with [draft picks Adam] Gettis, [Tom] Compton and [Josh] LeRibeus. It’s a lot of guys for those spots behind the starting five.”
Q: After drafting LeRibeus in the third round, what do you like about him?
CF: “He’s explosive. He’s quick. He fits what we do quite a bit. He fits our running game; protection-wise. We’re moving him all over the place. He’s playing center and both guards right now, so it’s been a lot of learning for him right now, as well as Gettis. We moved him from the right to the left [guard]. They’ve got a long ways to go, but they work very, very hard, and we’re real pleased.”
Q: Do you have a sense of where LeRibeus fits in best? Is center where he’ll end up?
CF: “He’s working behind our inside three, and the best guys are going to start, obviously. He’s got a challenge. Our starting three we really love. Kory, Will [Montgomery] – we re-signed Will in the offseason, and Chris [Chester], but he’s got to develop at all three spots. We’d love for him to develop as a center/swing guy, and as he develops further see if he competes. Who knows when he gets over the hump with that rookie-learning-everything? We’ll go through it again in training camp. Maybe it’s the first or second week of preseason when he starts to emerge. Right now he’s just getting his feet on the ground at all three positions. He’s doing a really nice job, but he’s still got a ways to go.”
Q: What do you like about Tyler Polumbus at guard?
CF: “Tyler has done a really nice job for us. We threw him in last year mostly at tackle, but he has played some guard. So when we started off the first of OTAs, I think he was struggling with the guard position like he kind of left off, but he really worked hard and diligently to own the left guard position and take over this time when Kory is not in there. I think he established himself as a pretty good guard for us. It’s just different than tackle. Things are quicker. Things happen faster. Guys are closer. It’s just different than what he’s been used to doing. He has made that adjustment.
Q: And at 6-foot-8, he’s really long to be playing inside, huh?
CF: “Yeah. It’s sometimes harder for a taller, longer guy because those inside guys are, you know, you need the length on the edges, not so much inside. So it’s a little bit different game for a tall guy in there, but he has adjusted well.”
Q: How does someone adjust to that?
CF: “You just have to understand that everything happens quicker. You have to understand that how I pass set and blocked on DeMarcus Ware is a lot different than how I do it against Barry Cofield. It’s timing. How quickly things happen, how quickly they get to the linebacker, is just a matter of repetition. Then you see if they can adjust. Some guys, the physically aren’t able to make that transition. Tyler appears to have done a nice job of making that transition.”
Q: Is there a lot to be said for bringing back last season’s entire first-string?
CF: “Continuity is great. Now, obviously you want to be good. If you’re not good enough at the position, you try to upgrade the position. But at least if you’re with the same players you had, if you wanted to upgrade or didn’t want to upgrade, having those same five guys and that continuity – we’ve always talked about that continuity and the chemistry that has to go with an offensive line and the camaraderie and unity that has to build. There’s unspoken communication that goes on every day, and those guys are doing a nice job of it.”
Q: Along those lines, do you see right guard Chris Chester benefiting from having an offseason to build on his first year in the scheme?
CF: “It’s huge for him because he didn’t have the offseason with us last year. This year he has come in way ahead of the curve, and now he can develop from there. That’s the thing we have to keep doing. Yeah, we have the base level of where we performed – whether you say it’s good enough or not – and we have to keep building on that. That’s what I think we’re starting to do. We’ve gotten this down, now we’ve gotta go here. Then we get that down, and we gotta go there. We just keep taking steps, and I hope that we’ll keep doing that.”
Q: What does have a mobile quarterback like Robert Griffin III do for the offensive line?
CF: “It should be outstanding. If there’s a problem with protection and he needs to get away and run, he can run really fast and hopefully run away from the problem. It obviously adds a dimension to our offense. For us it doesn’t matter because the quarterback is going to throw from the same spot, but the fact you can do different things with him as far as being able to move the pocket and the threat he is to the defense might change what the defense does. It helps us.”