ASHBURN — During training camp, Brandon Scherff said that rookie guard Wes Martin was “light-years ahead of where I was as a rookie” — a surprising thing for a former No. 5 overall pick to say about a fourth-rounder.
The Washington Redskins since have moved from Richmond to their Ashburn headquarters, where Martin’s locker borders Scherff’s. Martin said it’s been “huge” to learn from Scherff, considered one of the top right guards in the NFL, as he works on his game and his rookie summer turns to fall.
“Throughout this time I’ve been sitting right next to him, so I’ll get in his ear a little bit, or just absorb what he’s saying and how he’s going about things. I think a lot of it is learning about other people’s actions and how they go about things, so just watching him, how he works during practice or studies film or whatever that may be.”
Martin has earned praise from teammates and coaches alike as he settles into Washington’s system — specifically, on the battered and broken left side of the offensive line.
Two teammates — defensive end Jonathan Allen and center Tony Bergstrom — separately said that Martin’s strength as a guard was, in fact, “his strength.”
“Big, strong man. Look at him,” Bergstrom said. “He’s built like a square.”
“He’s a physical guy,” Allen said. “You can definitely tell he’s talented. The sky’s the limit for him; he just has to put it all together. And he’s a great player, great teammate.”
At the scouting combine, the Indiana University product posted 38 bench reps at 225 pounds, but reportedly was upset that he couldn’t hit 42, the mark he set on his pro day.
Martin is listed as the second-string left guard behind Ereck Flowers for now. Both players took some first-team reps there in Richmond, but Flowers got the majority during Washington’s two preseason games so far. There’s a key difference between them: Flowers is a converted tackle who had never previously played the position, while Martin played 50 games at left guard for Indiana, with 43 starts.
With left tackle also up in the air — Jay Gruden said Monday he had “no updates whatsoever” about holdout Trent Williams, whose time with the team may be over — some feel Martin and 36-year-old veteran Donald Penn are better options than Flowers and tackle Geron Christian, who have struggled against preseason opponents.
Martin said he didn’t arrive in Washington intending to win the starting gig right away.
“I was really just focusing on coming in, just getting to work right away, every day just getting better at chipping away at what the NFL is,” he said. “Just getting used to the new processes of things and the new league and kind of everything that comes with that.”
He also chuckled when asked about the biggest thing he’s learned so far — because he’s learned “a ton.” That comes from teammates like Scherff, but also offensive line coach Bill Callahan.
Callahan “probably knows more about football than anyone I’ve ever been around,” Martin said. “His knowledge and his ability to teach is unlike anything I’ve ever been around before.”
Gruden said Aug. 1 that Martin was more athletic and better at moves like pulling than the staff first thought, but the rookie’s next task was to get used to the speed of the NFL — “the stunts, the movement, how to adjust to certain blocking schemes to different fonts and looks.”
But Bergstrom thinks Martin has some of that down, too.
“He can move well,” Bergstrom said. “That’s one of the things that sometimes rookies gotta get used to, is the pace of the game, and he moves quick. He picked up the pace real quick and I think he’s doing well.”
For a team that finished 2018 with no fewer than seven offensive linemen on injured reserve, new depth options — including one that could end up with a starting job soon, like Martin — are welcome.
“You gotta train guys up and have them ready to roll,” Bergstrom said. “And that’s how it is anywhere, so I don’t think it’s anything particular to our team, but it’s the case everywhere. If you’re here you’re expected to be able to start.”