Jay Gruden didn’t hesitate when naming the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins (it’s Case Keenum) earlier this week. Now Keenum knows which players will be blocking for him on the left side of the offensive line come Week 1. A day after revealing Donald Penn will be the starting left tackle, Gruden said Ereck Flowers will be the starting left guard.
“Right now, Ereck Flowers is the left guard,” Gruden said to reporters Tuesday. “Wes Martin is going to get a lot of reps in this game coming up. He’s done a good job learning the offense and coming in as a rookie, he’s done a lot of good things. We have some other guys competing as well, but right now that’s where we’re going.”
Flowers is the most experienced of the candidates (in terms of NFL experience) at guard, despite learning the position for the first time this offseason. Flowers was taken by the New York Giants with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and spent his first four seasons in New York before he was released. He was then picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he got another chance to start. Flowers has struggled mightily at the tackle position since entering the NFL, allowing an average of 53 pressures, 38 hurries and five sacks a season. Flowers was never able to recover from a disastrous rookie season in New York while he allowed 69 pressures, five sacks and 17 quarterback hits in 616 pass-blocking snaps.
After the Giants moved Flowers to right tackle last season, they benched him for good after allowing 11 pressures in 98 pass-blocking snaps. New York released Flowers soon after, and he received a second chance in Jacksonville, allowing 27 pressures and two sacks in 255 pass-blocking snaps for the Jaguars at left tackle.
Flowers has shown some progress in the run game too, not all doom and gloom at his new position.
Flowers may be a bridge for Martin, the left guard from Indiana whom the Redskins selected in the fourth round of April’s draft. Martin started the final 37 games of his collegiate career and was named a William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalist as well as an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. Martin has the toughness to play physical on the offensive line, but needed to improve on his drive blocking in his rookie season.
Gruden may just be giving Flowers the opportunity to start until Martin is ready. If Flowers performs well, it’s a win-win for Gruden and the Redskins.