For Redskins' Offense, Trouble Down the Line

Numerous Injuries Are Hindering Team's Offensive Capabilities

From left, center Casey Rabach, guard Pete Kendall and tackle Chris Samuels at work against the Lions. The Redskins' running game has been slowed by injuries on the offensive line.
From left, center Casey Rabach, guard Pete Kendall and tackle Chris Samuels at work against the Lions. The Redskins' running game has been slowed by injuries on the offensive line. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wearing a cumbersome brace to protect his left arm after surgery, right guard Randy Thomas was in no condition to help the Washington Redskins last Sunday in a 17-14 loss at Green Bay. But as he stood on the sideline and watched another three offensive linemen leave the game, Thomas figured coaches eventually would turn to him out of necessity.

"Man, all these injuries on our line, this is getting freaky," Thomas said. "I mean, you've got fill-in guys getting hurt now. It's like every play we go out there, we're losing another guy. It makes you kind of start to wonder, 'Who's next?' "

Already shaken by the losses of Thomas and right tackle Jon Jansen in the first two games, the Redskins' offensive line had another unsettling week after center Casey Rabach, right tackle Todd Wade and backup tackle Stephon Heyer were all injured in the Packers loss. Yesterday, Rabach was downgraded from probable to questionable and Kevin Sampson was signed from the practice squad for today's game against Arizona.

Also yesterday, cornerback Shawn Springs reported to Redskins Park and was upgraded from questionable to probable. He had been in Dallas with his ailing father, Ron Springs. Shawn Springs is expected to play today.

After making adjustments in play selection when the Redskins lost the starting right side of the line, Al Saunders, associate head coach-offense, acknowledged he might have to tweak things more against Arizona, especially in the struggling running game, because the offensive line is in flux.

"First time in 30 years to lose so many linemen," said Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense, who has worked closely with offensive lines in his 13 seasons with the Redskins and three decades in the NFL. "To lose so many as we did, especially the first two, Randy Thomas and Jon Jansen, was devastating. That ripped our right side apart. We had to start from scratch."

Jansen broke his leg in the opener and was lost for the season. Thomas tore his triceps in the second game and is out until at least early December.

Then while the Redskins still were adjusting to a new right side of Wade and right guard Jason Fabini, a converted tackle, Wade and Rabach suffered groin injuries and Heyer injured a hamstring against Green Bay. When Heyer limped off the field late in the fourth quarter, Wade, who could barely move laterally, reentered the game on the Redskins' final possession.

"I almost had to play against Green Bay," Bugel said. "It was an ugly situation when guys start falling like that."

Said backup center Mike Pucillo, "It was almost to where you'd look around, and you didn't even know who was filling in for who."

Wade participated in full drills Friday in preparation for the Cardinals. He is listed as probable. Rabach, the linchpin of the offense, struggled in his workout yesterday, leading to the change in his status, and Pucillo will likely replace him today. Heyer, who also did not practice all week, is listed as questionable.

"If you have a lot of experience, you can miss practice and play, because certain guys have done it," said offensive coordinator Don Breaux, in his 17th season with the Redskins and 27th in the league. "Now, it's a little bit tougher when you have more than one guy. And if you're trying to integrate a bunch of totally new guys in there, well, that's even tougher."

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