EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—When center Kory Lichtensteiger and left guard Shawn Lauvao went out of today’s game with injuries, Spencer Long had to go in and play center. The only other active reserve offensive lineman was tackle Ty Nsekhe.
So the plan, as possibly drawn up on a white board by Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan on the sideline (there is no dirt to draw things up in on the field turf surface at MetLife Stadium), was to move Pro-Bowl tackle Trent Williams to guard and put Nsekhe into the lineup in Williams’ left tackle spot. Gruden said that he had confidence that Williams had enough knowledge of the offense to know how to handle things at left guard.
He apparently didn’t ask Williams.
“I didn’t know anything,” said Williams. “At tackle, especially left tackle, you kind of live on an island. Ninety-nine percent of the time you’re blocking the guy over you. But when you move inside there are so many calls, so many little intricate things that you have to pay attention to, that I didn’t know any of them.”
Long was able to help him out some, Williams said.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins was not at all taken aback when he went into the huddle and three of his five offensive linemen had not started the game.
“OK, next man up,” he said when asked what was going through his mind. “In this league you have to have that mentality. If any other thought hits your head you’re doomed to fail.”
Whatever anyone was thinking, the line combination worked. The Redskins ran for 30 yards in the first half with their line intact and got 60 in the second half with their makeshift group.
Gruden developed some confidence in the group. With the Redskins trailing by a point they got the ball needed a field goal to win. Matt Jones did a good chunk of the work to get Dustin Hopkins into position to make the kick, chewing up the clock while picking up 36 yards on seven carries. Williams loved it.
“It felt great,” he said. That’s the best feeling in the world when you can win the game by eating up the clock and running the ball.”
It was fun for Sunday. Now they will have to see how serious the injuries to Lichtensteiger and Lauvao are and configure what they have available for next week.