- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2019

RICHMOND — His name makes football fans shudder. Blogs list him as a candidate for a mid-training camp cut, especially at an eye-popping price tag of $3.25 million. Yet Ereck Flowers hasn’t played so much as one preseason down for the Washington Redskins.

Though he carries the reputation of a draft bust after his failed New York Giants tenure, Flowers is not merely hanging on to Washington’s training camp roster. He took first-team reps at left tackle Thursday during the first day of training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center.

It wasn’t part of the team’s plan — not until regular starter Trent Williams started his holdout.

During minicamp in June, offensive line coach Bill Callahan said he envisioned Flowers starting at left guard. The Redskins did not re-sign the injury-prone Shawn Lauvao at that spot. Flowers admitted Thursday he thought he’d be playing guard for Washington, too.

But for someone who played tackle most of his life — in particular, someone who was taken No. 9 overall four years ago with the expectation that he was an NFL-caliber tackle — the current circumstances work out just fine for Flowers.

“I mean, it’s all how you look at it,” Flowers said. “The more positions you can play, the longer you play. So I really just — whatever chance I get to go out there and play, I’ll go out there to the best of my ability.”

The elephant not in the room, Williams did not report to camp due to an undetermined combination of unhappiness with the Redskins’ medical staff and desire for a new contract. There was no movement on the Williams front Thursday, so Flowers could end up as the first-team blindside protector for the foreseeable future.

“I haven’t really got the reps at it so you could say that I don’t really know where I’m at. But I’ll tell you this, wherever you play there’s always injuries,” Flowers said. “Guys always have to switch positions … A lot of times — most of the time — things never go as planned as far as injuries in the league. So you just got to be able to be versatile, you know what I mean?”

Flowers’ time with the Giants went infamously sideways. He played 51 games for New York, lost his starting job in early 2018 and was finally cut last October. In that time, he allowed 16 sacks and a league-worst 180 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He caught on with the Jaguars for the rest of the year but didn’t stick in Jacksonville, either.

It’s hard to blame the guy for being happy to find a clean slate.

“I had a breath of fresh air from the moment I left (New York),” Flowers said. “But it’s OK. I learned a lot there. I think that I grew as a man there. I learned a lot of things.”

The 25-year-old said he’s learning from Callahan and by watching teammate Morgan Moses. He’s adding different kick steps to his jump set, a standard pass protection set, to be less predictable.

“Sometimes kicking then jumping, as opposed to just always kicking back. I think I’ve done that most of my career. It hasn’t been effective,” Flowers said.

Jay Gruden classified Flowers neither as a guard or a tackle, but more generically “an offensive lineman” when talking to reporters Thursday morning.

“If everything went perfectly there is a chance that we move him to guard,” Gruden said. “If everything doesn’t work out then the great thing about Ereck is that he has played both left tackle and right tackle, so odds are we start him out at tackle in training camp up here.”

Despite his journey here, Flowers said he didn’t feel he had something to prove during his time on Washington’s roster.

“I think I’m at a point where I just want to win more than anything,” he said. “Once you’re winning, everything is fun. Everything is more enjoyable.”

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