Can the Redskins' O-line handle injuries?

Can the Redskins' O-line handle injuries?
July 2, 2013, 11:00 am
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Tandler - Tarik

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir

The 2013 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 20 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.

Can the Redskins withstand injuries along the offensive line?

Despite the league-imposed cap penalty, the Redskins managed to keep together the cohesive, reliable and overachieving five-man unit that paved the way for the NFL’s top rushing offense in 2012. In 17 games, in fact, Tyler Polumbus was the only starter to miss a game. And he was sidelined for only one contest. But they can’t count on such good fortune again. And with Robert Griffin III returning from a serious knee injury, the spotlight will be on the line this season, particularly if it fails to adequately protect the team's star quarterback.

El-Bashir: While inexperience is a concern at many backup O-line positions, the Redskins’ biggest concern, without a doubt, is at left tackle. What would happen if Pro Bowler Trent Williams were unable to suit up? (It should be noted that he pushed through a multitude of injuries in 2012). There are four reserve tackles listed on the roster: Jeremy Trueblood, Tony Pashos, Tom Compton and Xavier Nixon. Trueblood and Pashos are veterans who have spent their entire careers on the right side. Meantime, Compton and Nixon, an undrafted rookie, have taken exactly 0 NFL snaps. Mo Hurt can play tackle, but he’s a natural guard. Williams is tough, as he proved last season. But remember what happened when Jordan Black was pressed into duty against the Bengals after Williams suffered a knee injury? faulted Black for two of the five sacks Robert Griffin III absorbed, and a total of three quarterback hits, on 63 snaps. And, it appears depth behind Williams could be a problem again this season.

Tandler: Sure, the Redskins would suffer if Trent Williams went out for any extended period of time with an injury. The fact of the matter is that the only teams that won’t suffer if their left tackle goes down this year are the ones to have mediocre to bad starters at the position to begin with. If a player is good enough to be a solid backup left tackle he’s probably good enough to be your starting right tackle. All the Redskins can do there is hope. As for the rest of the line, they could withstand a single injury. I don’t think they would bat an eye if Josh LeRibeus had to slide in at guard for an extended period of time or if Pashos, Trueblood, or Compton had to fill in at right tackle. But suffering multiple injuries along the line, like what they experienced in 2011, would spell big trouble for the offense. Again, the Redskins are like most other teams in the league in this regard. Even with a full salary cap it is difficult to retain OL depth in the NFL.