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Morgan Moses has made 89 consecutive starts for the Washington Football Team, all of which have come at right tackle. That streak will continue Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it may come on the opposite end of the offensive line.
With Cornelius Lucas ruled out for Sunday and Geron Christian Sr. on Injured Reserve, Moses could potentially start at left tackle for the first time since his rookie season. Moses has quietly put together a solid season as one of the stalwarts on Washington's offensive line, and the coaches are confident that will continue even if he is taken out of his usual role.
"I think Morgan is a competitor. He's a tough guy," said offensive coordinator Scott Turner. "He's going to do whatever he needs to, to get the job done wherever we ask of him. He's really been a good player for us over the course of this season."
Moses has been one of Washington's most reliable offensive linemen as part of a group that has seen changes at three of five positions. His Pro Football Focus grades -- 70.6 in pass blocking, 79.8 in run blocking and 78.0 overall -- are the best he's had in years. His run blocking and overall grades are both career-highs.
Moses was part of another offensive line change when Lucas left the Lions' game in the fourth quarter with an injury. Moses had not played at left tackle in six years, so he had a few "come to Jesus" talks with himself before Washington's offense resumed its drive.
"You've got a player lying on the field for an injury, you've got some time, so I had some self-talks to myself, and I was able to get it done," Moses told reporters Friday. "Obviously in the heat of the game, they're depending on you to play well, so you just take it one snap at a time."
Five plays later, Washington tied the game, 24-24, with Moses delivering a block on Everson Griffen that allowed Antonio Gibson to run in for a five-yard score. Moses finished the game with a run blocking grade of 91.6 -- the best of his career.
"At the end of the day, it's still football," Moses said about switching to left tackle. "I trained both ways throughout the summer...just to be mentally ready. You never know. Coach [John] Matsko told us as soon as he first got here, 'Hey you guys gotta be ready to play all five positions.'"
Head coach Ron Rivera said the biggest challenge Moses faces in possibly playing left tackle is switching up his technique. He's gotten plenty of time to fine-tune that this week, lining up on the left side in practice with David Sharpe opposite him. Moses has also been watching film on what left tackles have been able to do against the Bengals' pass rushers, and while he admits playing left tackle is different, his experience gives him confidence he will perform up to his standards.
"Obviously, my film study and my growth as a player since my rookie year has been the difference," Moses said. "The adjust to left tackle is different. It's like writing if you're really right-handed and you have to write with your left hand. Just being able to see all these defenses numerous times throughout the week, and throughout my career, is making me feel more comfortable with it."
Moses isn't looking past this week as to whether he could stay at left tackle for an extended period of time. He knows left tackle is an area of need for the team, and he's willing to do whatever the coaches ask of him. But Rivera is not saying anything about the latest iteration of Washington's offensive line.
"Morgan's a pretty good athlete, so I'm not necessarily concerned about it for him," Rivera said. "But, we'll see. He started out as a left tackle, they moved him to right where he got comfortable, but he has left tackle skillsets. We'll see how he goes."
The Washington Football team held practice at the Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Virginia, on Nov. 20, 2020. (Photos courtesy of Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team and Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
-- Cam Sims has been a complement to Terry McLaurin: In the past two weeks, Cam Sims has caught seven passes for 164 yards. He has accounted for 19% of Washington's offensive production in that span, which is second only to Terry McLaurin among skill players. Rivera said Sims adds another threat to the offense, and that bodes well for quarterback Alex Smith, who likes to distribute the ball to multiple pass-catchers.
"Alex has the ability and does a great job of spreading the ball. It's one of my favorite things I like to look at after a game is to see how many different receivers have been targeted and how many have been used. When you have that type of a threat with Terry, you have to have a complement. That's what we're trying to get at with having Cam out there."
-- The formula for determining a franchise quarterback: Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is in his 21st season, so he has seen plenty of quarterbacks in his time. He was with the St. Louis Rams when Kurt Warner was the team's signal-caller; he was the quarterbacks coach for former No. 1 overall picks Carson Palmer and Baker Mayfield; and he served as Andy Dalton's offensive coordinator with the Bengals from 2016-17. Now he's working with another former No. 1 pick in Smith.
"When determining what makes a franchise quarterback, Zampese said they have one thing in common: "Well, they win."
"First and foremost, those guys win. They end up making the guys around them better. They process every day as if it's game day. They're live, they're on and there's a sense of urgency. The way they play affects the other guys in a positive way. So, we're constantly watching. Not necessarily when a guy has a rep, but when he doesn't have a rep. We're always evaluating how a guy takes the information, processes it and then has a chance to spit it back to you or show you by the play. Then the drill work, there's a lot of things involved in that. We're going through that process right now."
-- Zampese is excited about Smith's progress: Smith has been the starting quarterback for about two weeks now, and the coaches have been pleased with the 16-year veteran's progress. His reaction time has improved, and he has been spreading the ball around well. He's also been showing more ability to escape pressure when the pocket collapses. More importantly, he does everything that is asked of him with decisiveness.
"Everything's thought out. Every look is thought out. When I'm going to this guy and why. When it happens on game day, it's natural, it's quick, it's decisive, and it goes to where we said it was supposed to go. You love that as a coach. The things that you talk about during the week happen on game day -- that's a huge positive. It makes you want to give more and more."
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