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Brian de la Puente Has Chance To Start Vs. Saints

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Even though he was signed on Tuesday, Brian de la Puente, a veteran center who has earned positive reviews, could start in his Redskins debut.

The sentiment was the same with new teammates and old ones.

While Brian de la Puente will be learning the Redskins' system on the fly, perhaps even starting this Sunday against the Saints, he's a smart and talented player that should have no issue dealing with so much in such a short time.

"He is a really smart football player, really did a great job for us, was part of some really great offenses with us," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who worked with de la Puente from 2011-13. "Really, extremely dependable, a guy I had a great rapport with and he obviously went to Chicago after us and I thought really did a good job filling in at center and also playing guard. He's a really good football player and did a great job for us while he was here."

Saints head coach Sean Payton added that de la Puente was a positive force in the locker room during his three seasons in New Orleans -- a leader of one of the top offenses in the league.

The Redskins are certainly getting a "tremendous teammate" and an "extremely bright" player, Payton said.

"I know that he's guy that'll come in quickly and dive into the playbook and spend time with Bill Callahan and get all the nuances down of the offense," he continued. "He's very versatile and proven to be that way with us."

With Kory Lictensteiger still dealing with a neck injury, the Redskins decided to place him on Injured Reserve with a designated to return status, meaning he could only make a return to the team's roster if they make the playoffs.

That left Josh LeRibeus, a player that moved over from guard during the offseason, as the only offensive lineman on the active roster who has played center. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden praised LeRibeus for taking on the center duties the past three games, but said he wanted someone with veteran experience who is "more of a true center."

"The good thing is, if [de la Puente] is playing center, then Josh LeRibeus can play both guard spots and center," Gruden said. "So we have that covered as far as our backups are concerned. If something happens to Josh, you have de la Puente, or if something happens to de la Puente, Josh can play center. And obviously Josh can play both guard spots."

If de la Puente manages to get the starting nod this weekend, which would become his 51st career NFL start, he said getting on "the same page" while be the primary focus.

"Get with the quarterbacks, and just make sure communication, everything's there, and everything will just fall into place," he said after his first practice with the Redskins Wednesday afternoon.

Even if their knowledge base of each other's tendencies, how de la Puente reads plays and how the quarterback likes the ball, is limited, Kirk Cousins said building chemistry under center is "very, very important."

The Washington Redskins on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2015, announced the signing of center Brian de la Puente.

"It takes time. We're not going to be as far down the road this Sunday as we will be three Sundays from now. It takes time," Cousins said. "I'm really impressed with Brian's recall and how quickly he is picking things up. His approach to the game and the way he is a professional I think will help him and help us as an offense to learn on the fly."

As Sunday inches closer and closer, de la Puente can't wait to get back on the field.

Following a season-ending ankle injury last year and at 30 years old without a team for the first half of this season, the chances at returning seemed to dwindle by the day.

That, of course, is no longer the case.

Now he is ready to get back to business against a lot of familiar faces.

"Every day I reminded myself that the opportunity's coming and I wanted to be ready," de la Puente said. "So worked hard, and when the opportunity came, I was really excited about, so fired up to be here, ready to go."

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