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Injuries rip apart O-line ... again
The Washington Redskins did not think it possible that last year's crippling injuries on the offensive line, the ones that rendered the offense inept and effectively ended their season, could strike again.
Yet here they are, at 5-3 and in first place in the NFC East, but facing another season-altering rash of injuries. Left tackle Trent Williams is out an indefinite amount of time after thumb surgery. Left guard Shawn Lauvao (torn ACL) is out for the season. Right guard Brandon Scherff (torn pectoral muscle) is out for the season. Right tackle Morgan Moses (sprained MCL) is iffy for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was like 2017 all over again. In one road game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Redskins were missing Pro Bowlers Williams and Scherff, their starting center, Spencer Long, and Lauvao. Morgan was the only man left standing that week and yet Washington earned a surprising win.
"You don't think back at all," center Chase Roullier said. "You're just focused forward on what we can do in the future here, what we're going to be able to do in the next play."
That's a nice thought, but probably unrealistic. Roullier at one point in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week had to run over to the sideline as trainers tended to Scherff. He needed to know where offensive line coach Bill Callahan wanted him to play. Center? Left guard? It was a disaster.
Ty Nsekhe has long been Williams' understudy at left tackle. Washington is comfortable with him - though he had to kick inside to guard during the Atlanta game, which was an adventure. Rookie Geron Christian is either the swing tackle or he has to start at right tackle for Moses. Veteran Tony Bergstrom can start at center with Roullier at left guard. None of this is ideal. The Redskins signed three offensive linemen to make up for their losses.
"It's something you don't want to go through, but it is pro football and you have to go through it," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Fortunately, we have a very good offensive line coach in coach Callahan and we'll figure it out and make it work. We have to move some people around that are already here, we can do that. But, we can't slow down, the train doesn't stop."
SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. Series tied, 10-10. The Redskins and Buccaneers have split a pair of NFC playoff games. The two teams met 11 times in 13 years from 2003 to 2015, but haven't played since Oct. 25, 2015 when Washington rallied from 24-0 down to win 31-30. That led to former quarterback Kirk Cousins' trademark "You like that!" phrase yelled at a local reporter as he came off the field.