RICHMOND — The Washington Redskins will begin practicing in pads during Saturday’s training camp session — one of the moments players get most excited for during the grueling summer workouts.
It’s when the practices finally feel like football and the intensity ratchets up from the non-contact organized team activities that take place in the spring. It’s also when coaches can begin more earnest evaluations along the offensive and defensive line and the running game.
Redskins center Kory Lichtensteiger said he feels healthy after missing 11 regular-season games last season because of a nerve injury and Saturday’s practice — and the sessions beyond — will be a good measuring stick for the veteran center.
“I’m going into year nine so I’ve got issues, believe me,” Lichtensteiger joked. “But the nerve is fine.”
Lichtensteiger was placed on short-term injured reserve after sustaining a nerve injury in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons and returned for the Redskins’ wild-card loss to the Green Bay Packers. He said he was healed in that game, but the offseason still provided Lichtensteiger the opportunity to let the nerve in his left shoulder rejuvenate.
“I mean we had to keep working it, that’s part of it,” Lichtensteiger said. “But it wasn’t one of those things where exercise is going to bring it back. The nerve has to heal on its own and the inflammation had to go down on its own. It was a funny thing.”
The Redskins’ offensive line play suffered without Lichtensteiger and his astute knowledge of the offense. Washington turned to Josh LeRibeus, who transitioned from left guard to center, and struggled managing the snap count and the accuracy of his snaps.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, they couldn’t evaluate Lichtensteiger for long because of their early playoff exit. Through OTAs and the early portion of training camp, the Redskins have enjoyed having Lichtensteiger back at the line of scrimmage and will be watching closely to see how he responds Saturday once the pads come on.
“He’s looked good,” Gruden said. “We’ll see when he gets the pads on. Obviously, Kory is very, very important because he’s so smart. His snaps are always on point. He handles all of the snap counts and he communicates extremely well with the runs and the pass protections. Very few times does Kirk [Cousins] have to trump him as far as protections are concerned, so Kory is like the quarterback of the offensive line. He looks good and I think he feels good. I think he’s at full strength.”