5. G Josh LeRibeus
Odds are the ‘Skins will not enjoy the level of offensive line health in 2013 that they did in 2012. Last year, LT Trent Williams played parts of one game, LG Kory Lichtensteiger was hurt in the season finale and checked out early in the playoff loss to Seattle and RT Tyler Polumbus missed a start. Your NFL violence-trained mind is rightfully expecting more carnage; there should have been more. Few NFL teams get through a season with better health along the offensive line. The 2012 ‘Skins O-line was the equivalent of a household with a couple of pre-schoolers traversing the cold and flu season without anyone running a fever.
So it’s safe to say the ‘Skins will encounter more offensive line drama this year. A serious injury to Trent Williams would be catastrophic, completely unrecoverable and, therefore, not even worthy of a Plan B debate (it would be the “flat spin” that Maverick and Goose encountered in Top Gun; goodness, gracious, great balls of fire indeed). If an injury is sustained along the interior of the line, though, the ‘Skins may have a really good answer. Josh LeRibeus, a 2012 third round draft pick is fully indoctrinated into Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme and filled in admirably for Lichtensteiger last year. If, or perhaps when, Lichtensteiger, RG Chris Chester or C Will Montgomery sustains an injury, LeRibeus likely gets the call. He needs to answer it with little or any drop in production. LeRibeus represents the cheap, young and layered depth the good teams have to sustain a season’s known attrition. Are the ‘Skins one of those “good teams,” and is LeRibeus one of those young, luxury talents hiding on the depth chart? We’ll probably find out this year.