Josh LeRibeus is learning the center position on the fly this preseason after spending his first three NFL seasons exclusively at guard.
As a member of the 2012 NFL Draft class, Josh LeRibeus was touted as someone who could play not only the guard position, but center as well.
The Washington Redskins conducted their fourth day of training camp practice Sunday, August 2, 2015, at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
During his first three seasons in the NFL, though, LeRibeus worked exclusively at guard.
But when new offensive line coach Bill Callahan was hired, LeRibeus was told he'd be expanding his duties to some work at center as well.
"Coming in, honest to God, I thought it was just guard," LeRibeus said. "I've been told the last two years that it's guard, regardless. And after that first week, Callahan was like 'Center,' and I was like, 'Oh, okay, I have to completely change.'"
LeRibeus said the position requires "a lot of technique."
"I thought it was simple, and I was coming out like, 'This is the easiest thing in the world, why do they even complain?' But no, it's a different beast," he said. "The last few years, Kory [Lichtensteiger] was making the call, and now you're making the call. It puts a little more pressure on you, but it helps you learn the playbook a lot better."
LeRibeus and the Redskins got their first crack at seeing exactly where he stands at the center position when he was inserted into the starting offensive line for Lichtensteiger, who was given a veteran's day off from practice.
The result? LeRibeus was able to hold his own against the Redskins' first-team defense, including Terrance Knighton, one of the most talented nose tackles in the league.
LeRibeus, a Southern Methodist product, has had an up-and-down career to date, as he stepped in for Lichtensteiger, then a guard, during the Redskins' division-clinching victory over the Cowboys in 2012 and also made his first-career start last season.
But the 6-foot-2, 315 pounder was also inactive during the entire 2013 season as he struggled to maintain his weight.
With his weight now in check, LeRibeus has been able to set his sights exclusively on his technique, which is important considering what Callahan wants out of his offensive linemen.
"For any play he has a different technique, it's great, but you're just getting reps, and the more reps you can get the better," LeRibeus said. "You might be dying out there, but it's going to help you in the long run."
Callahan said during the offseason that the former third-round pick is "naturally explosive" and that moving him to center occasionally is simply part of his growth as an NFL lineman.
"Moving him inside is just kind of a natural progression for me so we can have him in the backup positon, to be ready if something ever happens," Callahan said. "Of course, we're still training him at guard. Every one of these guards we have cross-trains at center with the exception of Shawn [Lauvao]. I'm cross-training about five or six of them. So far, so good."
LeRibeus said training camp practices can get a bit hectic, as he's expected to participate in drills with not only the offensive linemen, but the special teams units, as well.
But LeRibeus lives by the old adage, "The more you can do, the better."
"Today I had kickoff return to start practice, so I couldn't work on the silent snap," he said. "That was kind of a hassle during the one-on-ones, so I spent about 10 extra minutes after practice, even after the extra [work], with [assistant offensive line coach] Shane [Day] to get that down."