Starter: Chris Samuels
Experience: Seventh NFL season, all with Redskins
2005: Started 16 games
Resume: Samuels has been the starter almost from the moment he was drafted with the third overall selection in the 2000 draft. While he has remained a notch below the elite left tackles in the league, he has brought quality play and stability to the position and the value of that can't be underestimated. He is rarely overpowered, but quick, athletic ends like Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice can give him problems.
Said about Samuels: "The thing I appreciated
about Chris was that we went in that locker room sometimes after some of the
toughest losses any teams been a part of. You lose with a last play against
Green Bay, we all know how upset we were with that, we lose at the very end of
the game against Dallas, we lose in New York when we turn the ball over seven
times and we lose Jon Jansen very early. What I appreciated in all of that was
Chris' leadership. I think that he was somebody that every week we could count
on."—Joe Gibbs after Samuels signed a contract extension in 2005
John Keim's Inside Juice: Can the guy ever play without an injury? Maybe Samuels was a surprise Pro Bowl pick in 2005, but he consistently has played with some injury or another the past couple years. If healthy, there's no reason he can't have another Pro Bowl year. Maybe improved health will help him get better against those speed rushers.
Pino, Molinaro, Woodard
Depth: Jim Molinaro has yet to establish himself as a legitimate backup in two seasons after being drafted. Should he continue to struggle, a longshot such as Jonta Woodard, a 6-4, 317 former Louisville Cardinal with some CFL experience or Chris Pino, a rookie free agent from San Diego State, may be able to fill the void. If you read this as saying that there is no depth at this position and that Samuels had better be able to play virtually every snap of every game, you'd probably be right (yes, this is virtually the same thing written about the situation on the right side earlier in this series).
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