Joe Bugel came up with the nickname "Hogs" because he was the first to discover that a lot of offensive linemen could carry 300 pounds without losing their effectiveness. The Hogs became cult heroes in Washington, where T-shirts and souvenirs bore their mugs.

Fans may have paid attention to the pretty-boy quarterbacks in San Francisco and Dallas, but in Washington, they knew all about Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Mark May and Jeff Bostic.

This year begins a new era for the Hogs. Bugel has left to coach the Phoenix Cardinals, Jacoby and May are coming off knee surgery and a new generation of linemen -- Ed Simmons, Raleigh McKenzie, Jim Lachey, Ray Brown and Mark Schlereth -- will hog a lot of the playing time.

In fact, as the end of training camp approached, the Redskins faced their toughest decisions on the offensive line, where 12 guys were competing for, at most, nine spots.

"Things change," Grimm said. "We knew it wasn't going to last forever. But I wouldn't count us out yet."

It would be hard to count any of them out yet. Grimm has bounced back from surgery and had an outstanding camp. He's 31 and beginning his 10th season, so the Redskins no longer expect him to play every down, "but when he's in there, he's still as good as ever," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "He's like having a coach on the field because he just knows so much. He's going to be a valuable part of our football team."

Jacoby, 31, has been an even bigger surprise, having undergone reconstructive knee surgery after an injury in Week 10 last season. He has rebounded to have a tremendous training camp, and while he probably won't start, the Redskins expect him to play a lot.

"He's had a classic recovery," Gibbs said.

Jacoby said he didn't know what to expect, "but once I got back out there and started getting hit, it seemed like old times. The difference is I'm carrying a heavy brace around on my left leg and I started to drag it after a while. It's going to take some getting used to, but it has been pretty good so far."

May, 30, is further behind and probably won't be ready until October. He also underwent surgery, then during training camp had to undergo an arthroscopic procedure to smooth out some rough edges.

Their injuries last year forced the Redskins to play younger players and the problem during this camp has been in trying to fit all the pieces back together. Gibbs has speculated that the Redskins might rotate eight linemen as some college teams do. New line coach Jim Hanifan said he has never done it that way and prefers to use a starting five much of the game "because the offensive line requires the ultimate in team work."

"I wouldn't say we're over the hill just yet," Grimm said. "You know when you come into this game there's going to be changes and you have to accept that. I think all of us do. It's inevitable. There was a time when I was a young guy coming along fighting for someone else's job. You know you're not going to play this game forever."

Jacoby has felt the same way. "I never thought it was over," he said. "I was in a cast so long after the surgery that I really didn't know what to feel. But once I could see I'd be able to walk again, I definitely wanted to play. I didn't want my career to end that way. I wanted to go out on my own terms."