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In Artis Hicks, Redskins get someone who can play 4 of 5 offensive line spots

New Redskins offensive lineman Artis Hicks understands the value of versatility.

The former Minnesota Vikings guard-tackle, who signed a three-year contract with the Redskins on Saturday, entered the league as a left tackle. He only reluctantly learned to play left guard, and then right guard and right tackle in an attempt to improve and extend his career.

And after eight seasons in the NFL, Hicks believes he made a wise move.

"You can't win in this league if you don't have a good offensive line, and not only a good offensive line, you've got to have a good offensive line that has good depth," Hicks said in a phone interview Sunday. "You have to have guys who can step in and play a lot of different positions and the line won't miss a beat.

"And I think that was one of the things that attracted them [the Redskins] to me, is that I can play four out of the five spots. They know that I can step in and keep things rolling right ahead, as well as be a starter in this league. My versatility ... that's one of the things that's helped me play in this league for eight years now."

Hicks, 31, received about $3 million in guaranteed money as part of a deal that could be worth as much as $9 million. Hicks, listed at 6 feet 4, 335 pounds, is the first unrestricted free agent from another team to sign with the Redskins. Defensive lineman Phillip Daniels re-signed with Washington on the first day of free agency.

After beginning his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Hicks was a key member of Minnesota's offensive line the past four seasons. While serving as the primary backup at guard and tackle for the Vikings last season, Hicks, for the first time in his career, appeared in every game for the NFC North champions. He started twice at right guard and once at right tackle.

"When I came into the league, I could only play left tackle," said Hicks, who has started 58 games in his career. "I learned how to play left guard, and then when I moved to Minnesota, I learned how to play right guard and right tackle. It wasn't always the easiest at times, but it was a blessing in disguise. Wherever I line up, I just try to go out there and do the best that I can."

The Redskins ran zone blocking schemes about 90 percent of the time last season, members of the former coaching staff said recently, and new Coach Mike Shanahan is known for his belief in the zone game. Hicks said he's equally comfortable on zone and power blocking plays.

"I'd say it was 50-50" with the Vikings, Hicks said. "We ran a lot of zone. We also did a lot of downhill things, too, because we had Adrian Peterson, who could do both pretty well, and Chester Taylor could also.

"When I was in Philly we did some zone blocking in the run game, so I'm familiar with the system. I'm just looking forward to it. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and getting the chance to move around a little bit."

Hicks could be very busy next season with the Redskins, who had one of the league's least effective offensive lines and lacked quality depth at every position. He is expected to compete at right guard, which was a revolving door for Washington because of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Randy Thomas, Chad Rinehart, Will Montgomery, Edwin Williams and Mike Williams started at the position as the Redskins went 4-12 and finished last in the NFC East for the second consecutive season and third time in the past four seasons. Mike Williams, whom the team re-signed last week, is expected to provide the main competition for Hicks at right guard.

"If I get a chance to compete for that, I'll do my best to try to hold that spot," Hicks said. "But whatever my role is, man, I'll definitely accept it with open arms and try to make the most out of it, whatever it might be.

"You get a chance to come in and compete for a spot on a team that has rich football tradition like the Redskins, that's always exciting. They've got a great coaching staff that they've just put together, so the pieces are starting to fall into place now."

By Jason Reid  |  March 7, 2010; 12:12 PM ET
Categories:  Free agency , Jason Reid , Mike Shanahan , Offensive line  
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Next: Maake Kemoeatu's visit to Redskins isn't likely to yield a contract just yet

Comments

first

Posted by: jollybengali | March 7, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Second

Posted by: jiza32 | March 7, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Third

Posted by: SkinsFan37years | March 7, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Bottom Line!!!

If the skins can hold down the fort and get two veteran tackles who can play and be productive...

They will draft the best QB in this draft

Jimmy Clausen

------------------------------

The rams are on the Bradford bandwagon and will pick him

Shanny wants Clausen

Meanwhile they will slowly build this o-line threw the draft, but first, they need a franchise QB and Clausen is the guy who is tailor made for Shanny's system

Your thoughts

Posted by: byrdinthesky | March 7, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

My last..my everything..

Posted by: dmlopez1 | March 7, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to interrupt the exciting counting but what is zone blocking exactly?

Posted by: charley42 | March 7, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

After watching the start of FA, not sure that anybody can say what/who Shanahan wants.

And regardless of how many other OL are signed, Okung if there at 4 has to be the pick.

Posted by: Curzon417 | March 7, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

From Wiki:

Zone blocking is a technique in American football that is a simple and effective scheme for creating lanes for running plays.

In a zone blocking scheme, fleet-footedness and athletic ability trump size as desirable qualities in offensive linemen. Coordination and technique matter more than muscle in implementing a successful scheme because defensive linemen are often double-teamed at the point of attack. Creating movement on the defensive line is more important than opening a specific hole in the defense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_blocking

Posted by: Curzon417 | March 7, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

oh yeah - wiki - I forgot - thanks.

Posted by: charley42 | March 7, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Technically, Samuels and Betts failed physicals
Posted by Mike Florio on March 7, 2010 12:24 PM ET
As the dust settles on the flurry of activity that closed out the 2009 league year and officially dropped the ball on the 2010 offseason, there are two developments in D.C. that require further comment.

Per a league source, the departures of running back Ladell Betts and tackle Chris Samuels officially came with the designation of "failed physical."

The end result is the same -- neither guy is on the team. But it wasn't a traditional release of Betts, and it was anything but a traditional retirement for Samuels.

Indeed, Samuels technically is a free agent. Thus, if at some point he decides to make a comeback, he would be able to sign with any team.

Typically, teams place retired players on the Reserve-Retired list, holding their rights indefinitely.

That said, the chances of Samuels playing again are remote; he retirement was caused by a neck injury that by all appearances prevents him from returning.

Posted by: Curzon417 | March 7, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

That was Shanahan's other requirement of offensive linemen in Denver -- versatility. They expected players to rotate during the season to fill holes created by injury. It's a sound model that doesn't emphasize starting jobs as much as the ability to play multiple spots.

He sure doesn't seem to be shying away from size, however. Smaller, more athletic? Hicks is huge and Mike Williams is probably the biggest guy in the NFL, or close to it. Tony Pashos is not a delicater person, either.

Outside of left tackle, who is out on an island much of the time, the most important blocker on any given play is usually the center. That's because they're usually running off guard. The back approaches the line, makes a cut, and take off straight upfield. The Skins have been very different over the past two seasons, preferring to take the ball off tackle.

If I had to sum up zone blocking, I'd say it required intelligence and discipline more than most schemes.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 7, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Shanny and Allen take the left tackle or the safety blowing away all the prognosticators. These guys seem like they want to be completely unpredictable. Have to assume they will make some trades when draft day comes. More nerve wracking for Cindy Boren ... ;)

Posted by: periculum | March 7, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

After watching the start of FA, not sure that anybody can say what/who Shanahan wants.

And regardless of how many other OL are signed, Okung if there at 4 has to be the pick.

Posted by: Curzon417 | March 7, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I think you're right, Curz. FO has basically gone after value, instead of splash. Seems with a couple of additional bodies, they will have maneuvered to a position of balance, where no one will be able to categorically say that Skins have to draft player x or y. The unknown may actually strengthen their position, and may also make a trade for #4 possible. Regardless, I like what they are doing. In the long run, we will be better off for it.

Posted by: frediefritz | March 7, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Shanny wants Clausen

Meanwhile they will slowly build this o-line threw the draft, but first, they need a franchise QB and Clausen is the guy who is tailor made for Shanny's system

Your thoughts

Posted by: byrdinthesky | March 7, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse
========================================
Stay away from the ND busts. The guy shined against second team competition and even then it wasn't like he really lit it up. Golden Tate did a lot to make him look good. This year's draft has a lot of risk at the QB position, they all do, but none of the QBs strike me as "We have to get this guy at all costs" types. And Clausen is far from being that guy. Quinn to me was a better QB in college and you see where his career is going. There are plenty of quality options to fill needs in other positions in this draft.

Posted by: clark202 | March 7, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

juss throwing something out there..

What kind of value do yall think we can get for Andre Carter??

Posted by: PardenMiSwage | March 7, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: Curzon417 | March 7, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Byrd, Clausen isn't the tallest, strongest, or most athletic QB in this draft. He has shown consistently over the last 3 years that he doesn't have the intangibles and he's not a winner. We're not gonna win with a stopgap line, if we had Clausen, JC17, or even a Drew Brees caliber player under center.

Redskins need to take Okung at #4 or trade back and get more picks. You don't need to be a top 5 pick to be a franchise NFL QB (Tom Brady), and more often than not those guys turn out to be busts (Derek Anderson, Alex Smith, David Carr, Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington). We don't need to reach at #4 for our future QB, and I'm confident we would be better off taking Okung then trading back in the second taking Lefeveur or Tebow, and grooming them for the future.

Use FA for depth and guys to challenge the starters at OL, CB, DE, NT, ILB, and S, bring in a solid backup like Sexy Rexy, and draft for the future.

Posted by: hokiesmokie | March 7, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

hokiesmokie,

If you actually think Clausen is better than Bradford you need to get the purple headed yougurt slinger out of your mouth and watch some more football.

Posted by: redskinssince96 | March 7, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

But whatever my role is, man, I'll definitely accept it with open arms and try to make the most out of it, whatever it might be.

Just keep your elbows in.

Posted by: skinfanman | March 7, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Okung 1
Colt (2.0) 2
Colt (1.0) to Buffalo for a 5.
Pray to Tebow to make it so.

Posted by: ElYeah | March 7, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

hokiesmokie,

If you actually think Clausen is better than Bradford you need to get the purple headed yougurt slinger out of your mouth and watch some more football.

Posted by: redskinssince96 | March 7, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Finally someone who has some common sense. Clausen sucks.

Posted by: Redskins001 | March 7, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Clausen and Bradford are over rated I am hopeful the Skins are real boring in the upcoming draft and take a left tackle with that first pick and I hope they remain boring and provide depth on that line and get a couple diamonds in the rough in the lower rounds with running backs and linebackers

Posted by: BeatDontStop | March 7, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Hokiesmokie, Tebow as QB (unless Canada)....... Do you watch pro ball?

Posted by: dlr13754 | March 7, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

first

Posted by: jollybengali |

Second

Posted by: jiza32 |

Third

Posted by: SkinsFan37years


Get a life!

Posted by: iubiquity | March 7, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

a 31 year old jack of all trades,master of none.this is a waste of money,like always.it looks like allen doesnt know much about talent,and shanny has gotten too old for this game,mark my words

Posted by: billydee123 | March 7, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Clausen is over-rated, does not have arm strength/intangibles to be a long-term success in NFL.
Bradford is also a gamble--the shoulder is a timebomb waiting to go off again.

Use the QB's you have on the roster this year.

Posted by: Steelblue1 | March 8, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Anybody got news on OT Nick Kaczur? I thought he was a UFA, he maybe 30+ but hasn't had any injury problems that I know of and maybe one of those versatile OL Allen/Shanahan are looking for, I know for a fact Kaczur can play both Tackle spots, I think he was a mainstay at LT for the Patroits once Matt Light went out with injury. Think we should also reach out to Marshal Yanda another jack of all trades OL, he played some OT in Baltimore when Gaither and Adam Terry were hurt, also played OG when Baltimore went run heavy, and this guy is on the right side of 30. Not sure what the plans are for Hicks but another OL I wouldn't mind us going after is 28 yr old Rex Hadnot, played mostly RG for the Browns. Mike Gandy is still hanging around but he's 30,so he wouldn't be anything other than a quick fix. Mike Brisiel who's 27 played under Shanny Jr. in Houston and also played 4 of the 5 OL positions, al I'm saying is the more FA OL we go after the options we'll have with our 1st 2 draft picks,eventhough Okung is still my favorite with the 4th overall pick.


P.S Bruce Allen there are still some good OL to be had, sign some!!!


Posted by: robbkels | March 8, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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