Redskins dealing with more injuries on the offensive line

August 11, 2012

The injuries keep mounting along the offensive line for the Washington Redskins.

Two days after their 7-6 preseason-opening victory over Buffalo, the team returned to the practice field, but did so without starting left tackle Trent Williams, or Maurice Hurt, who has stepped in at left guard with starter Kory Lichtensteiger recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that Williams will miss time with a bone bruise in his left foot, and that Hurt is suffering from an inflamed tendon behind his left knee.

Williams said Thursday night that he injured his left foot 14 plays into the Buffalo game. On that play, Williams was a lead blocker for wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who caught a screen, made a cut around Williams and went 20 yards for a touchdown. Williams said someone fell on his foot.

Williams and the Redskins’ starters were pulled from the game following that drive-capping play. Later during the game, Williams received X-rays on his foot, but the results came back negative. Williams walked with a significant limp as he headed for the team bus but said, “It’s fine. I’ll be fine.”

Two days later, Shanahan said the Redskins don’t know how long the left tackle will be sidelined.

“He’s pretty sore right now. We’ll have to play it day-by-day,” Shanahan said. “I know it’ll be a few days. It’s kind of wait and see right now.”

Hurt didn’t suffer an obvious injury in Thursday’s game. But Shanahan said that the inflamed tendon will likely sideline him at least for Monday’s practice as well. Hurt watched Saturday’s practice with a black compression stocking on his left leg. Williams wasn’t present.

With both sidelined, center Will Montgomery was left as the only starting lineman to practice Saturday.

Expected starting right tackle Jammal Brown has spent all of training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, while Lichtensteiger had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee — the same in which he suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments last October — during the first week of training camp. And last week, right guard Chris Chester sprained his left ankle and missed Thursday’s game. He did some jogging on Saturday, but didn’t take part in practice.

Hurt had stepped in for Lichtensteiger, and Tyler Polumbus has held down the starting right tackle duties.

On Saturday, instead of Williams, it was Jordan Black who took over at left tackle. Rookie Josh LeRibeus lined up at left guard, fellow rookie Adam Gettis at right guard and Polumbus remained at right tackle.

Already, it is starting to feel like the 2011 season, when Washington was forced to use eight different combinations along the offensive line. But Shanahan appeared to take the latest injuries in stride on Saturday.

“You’re always disappointed when someone goes down, but it’s the nature of the game,” Shanahan said. “That’s why you need a little depth. We got a few in the draft, got a couple in free agency. So, we’ve got a little more depth than we did a year ago, and it’s a good thing we do.”

The Redskins entered the offseason well aware that the line — particularly the interior — needed to be addressed. And so, they drafted LeRibeus out of Southern Methodist in the third round, and then took Gettis out of Iowa in the fifth. The team also selected tackle Tom Compton out of South Dakota in the sixth round.

Gettis started at right guard with Chester out, while LeRibeus played left guard on the second team.

“I thought [Gettis] did a very good job with the first unit, and LeRibeus came in and did exceptionally well, especially for playing both the center and the guard position for a number of weeks, especially at the center position,” Shanahan said.

Black, meanwhile, was out of football in 2011, and said that he “had all but retired” when the Redskins came calling on July 30th. He arrived at Redskins Park needing to knock off some rust, and needing to gain back 25 pounds to get back to his playing weight of 300 pounds. Black, who has been on a 7,000-calorie-a -day diet, has since gained 10 pounds.

He spent the bulk of his first week and a half working with the third team, but lined up as second-team right tackle against Buffalo.

Familiar with the Redskins’ zone-blocking schemes from his time in 2007 with the Houston Texans, who are coached by Shanahan disciple Gary Kubiak, Black said his comeback has proceeded without much of a hitch.

“I still know there’s a lot more improvement I can make . . . [but] for some reason, it’s been a really easy transition for myself,” Black said. “I’ve been at this business a long time. Whatever they need me to do, that’s what I’ll do.”

The Redskins hope that the latest round of shuffling is only temporary. Chester is expected to return later this week, and Shanahan hopes that Williams — charged with protecting rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III’s blind side — can make a swift recovery. Washington’s doctors believe Lichtensteiger will return to action by the regular season opener on Sept. 9. But the outlook for Brown is less promising.

“He is still pretty sore,” Shanahan said of Brown, who injured his surgically repaired hip while running sprints on the eve of training camp. “He gets treatment a couple times a day. I don’t see much improvement, but hopefully it comes quickly.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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