Washington Redskins will use revamped offensive line against Dallas Cowboys

Levi Jones, front, went from unemployed to the Redskins' starting left tackle in less than a month.
Levi Jones, front, went from unemployed to the Redskins' starting left tackle in less than a month. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 21, 2009

Asked this week whether he intended to use the same five offensive linemen in Dallas that helped the Redskins end a four-game losing streak against Denver, Redskins Coach Jim Zorn offered a smile. In a season that has presented few easy answers, the head coach was finally lobbed an easy question.

"Yes," he said with a chuckle.

Against the Broncos, injuries forced the Redskins to reshuffle the offensive line again, and last Sunday they fielded their fifth combination of linemen of the season. Coaches hope they finally landed on a group that works.

The Redskins will again line up Levi Jones at left tackle and Chad Rinehart at right guard, a formula that proved successful against Denver, when Washington posted season highs in rushing yards, allowed quarterback Jason Campbell to stay on his feet for an entire half and didn't get flagged for a holding penalty.

"I think it is getting some cohesiveness with the offensive line group and that's been hard because we have shuffled around a lot," Zorn said.

Coaches were pleasantly surprised that the line was so effective with the additions of Jones, who was signed Oct. 20, and Rinehart, who has struggled to earn playing time.

Offensive line coach Joe Bugel said that when Jones joined the team last month, he made clear he didn't come to Washington to spend time with the scout team.

" 'I want to start,' " Bugel said Jones told him.

"Hey, stick around," Bugel responded. "The way we get injured, you may be in there tomorrow."

Sure enough, within a month, Jones went from unemployment to the starting lineup. Right tackle Mike Williams sprained his ankle on Nov. 8 in Atlanta, which forced the Redskins to slide Stephon Heyer back to the right side a week later. Jones inherited the left tackle position, which Heyer was only playing because Chris Samuels is on season-ending injured reserve.

Now, a week later, Jones has another tall task ahead of him. Denver's Elvis Dumervil, the NFL's sack leader, had 1 1/2 sacks against the Redskins last Sunday. And now Jones likely will be fending off DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys' talented linebacker and one of the league's best pass rushers.

"When you're juggling new guys, that takes a little bit of extra work, extra effort," Bugel said. "Fortunately, Levi Jones, he came in with a great attitude. He's a hard worker. He picked up things rather quickly, more quickly than I thought he would."

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