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Heyer Proves His Versatility Again, This Time At Guard

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Artis Hicks stood on the sidelines of LP Field watching as center Casey Rabach and left guard Derrick Dockery went down with injuries.

With Hicks, the starting right guard, also sidelined for the Tennessee Titans game with a thigh injury, he wondered who would step in on the injury depleted offensive line.

The answer?

Offensive tackle Stephon Heyer.

Heyer played at guard for the first time in his career against the Titans.

By all accounts, he performed well.

"I was impressed with how Stephon handled it," Hicks said. "He had never played guard before, never gotten a rep there. He kind of towered over everybody in there, you couldn't miss him.

"For him to step in there and do well, it says a lot about his drive to play the game."

Heyer's versatility was already valued because the fourth-year player has NFL starting experience at both left and right tackle.

Now he can add guard to his resume.

This week in practice, Heyer said he took some reps at guard again.

"I'm just rotating in right now," he said. "I did some guard and I'll probably do some tackle as well. I'm just going to prepare for everything."

Switching to guard, even if it is temporary, is sure to be a work in progress.

"It's going to be one of those things that's going to be an ongoing process," Heyer said. "It won't happen overnight, but I think as I get more chances and more reps, I'll get better."

What's different about playing guard instead of tackle?

"You have to get your hands on somebody in a hurry," Heyer replied. "At tackle, it's hard to do that because you have so much distance [from the defensive end], but as a guard you're right up on the guy. So [the pressure] is right now.

"I played with a sense of urgency and if I can play with the proper leverage and keep learning, I can get wins as far as one on one blocks."

Despite starting 16 games last year, Heyer was not a certainty to make the Redskins' roster this season.

With injuries to starting tackles Trent Williams and Jammal Brown, Heyer has seen steady playing time this season.

At one point, Heyer and Brown were rotating at right tackle as Brown struggled with a nagging hip injury.

Heyer impressed head coach Mike Shanahan in the Tennessee game.

"Stephon stepped in and did a great job, especially with not practicing at that position before," Shanahan said. "[He is] very smart, very aware of the different positions on the offensive line, which enabled him to go in there and at least know the assignments.

"He played at a very high level and I was pretty proud of the way he played."

As Shanahan evaluates the offensive line leading up to Sunday's game against Minnesota, he may have to mix and match again.

"We'll have to get a feel during the week and what's the best combination for us entering the game," he said. "Who's healthy? Who gives us the best chance to win?"

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