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Redskins' offensive line holding steady


Redskins' offensive line holding steady

In the preseason, it appeared that a banged up and unproven line might hold back a potentially explosive Redskins’ offense.

But Kory Lichtensteiger returned from a second knee surgery, Chris Chester’s ankle sprain turned out to be minor, and most important, reserve Tyler Polumbus proved to be an adequate replacement for the injured Jammal Brown.

While it might be a stretch to call the Redskins’ offensive line one of the team’s strengths, the unit certainly has performed much better than anticipated through the season's first six games.

“Overall, I’ve been happy with our guys,” Coach Mike Shanahan said this week. “They are starting to feel very comfortable with the system. They know what they are doing and it shows on the field.”

Quarterback Robert Griffin III has been sacked 12 times, a lower total that 17 other starters and has been hit an average of 5.8 times per game. Some of that, of course, is Griffin’s elusiveness. Some of it, though, is the result of an offensive line that’s in sync and doing an effective job in pass protection.

For comparison’s sake, Arizona’s Kevin Kolb has been sacked 27 times, while Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 23 times. 

The statistics also show Washington’s Trent Williams-led offensive line has been effective in run blocking.

The Redskins rank second in the NFL in rushing yards with 996. Rookie running back Alfred Morris leads the way with 538, while Griffin has amassed 379, the most among quarterbacks.

The unit has, however, seen its share of struggles from time to time. Against the Bengals, for example, Griffin was sacked six times for a total loss of 53 yards and contacted 13 other times while passing. In that game, Williams suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and his replacement, Jordan Black, was not sharp.

That game was the line's low point. Sunday's triumph over the Vikings' top-tier defense, meantime, marked its best effort.

Griffin was sacked just once and hit while passing only three times. The team also rushed for 183 yards, a total highlighted by Griffin’s 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. That play began with center Will Montgomery and guards Lichtensteiger and Chester opening a gaping hole for Griffin at the line of scrimmage.

Asked about the line’s unexpected improvement, Shanahan singled out three keys: health, chemistry and Polumbus’ emergence. Polumbus, a 6 foot 8, 305-pound tackle, was signed last November as a depth player. But he won the starting right tackle job in training camp, replacing Brown, who remains on the physically unable to perform list with a hip condition.

“There were a number of people that worried about our offensive line,” Shanahan said. “We have stayed fairly healthy, which is always a big advantage. The offensive line is a group of people working together as a unit. Everybody’s got a piece of the puzzle.”

He added: “The big addition has been Tyler Polumbus. He’s come in and he’s done a good job of picking up the system very quickly. Hopefully, he’ll keep on improving.”

On the other side of the line, Williams is quietly putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season, a bid underscored by his standout performance against Jared Allen last week. Allen recorded a sack late in the game, but the Vikings’ star defensive end beat tight end Logan Paulsen on that play, not Williams.

“I don’t even like watching my rookie year film, because it’s not me,” Williams asked about his progress. “ It’s basically two different players at this point. Last year, I improved a lot. But even that player last year is not the player you see now. It’s experience.”

Williams also knows the line’s biggest challenge awaits Sunday at the Meadowlands. In addition to Jason Pierre Paul, the Redskins must contend with Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, among others. 

“They have the best front four the league has to offer,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge.”

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Stephen A. Smith mocks Redskins again after loss to Lions

Stephen A. Smith mocks Redskins again after loss to Lions

By Jason Dobkin (@jasondobkin)

Stephen A. Smith mocked the Redskins on ESPN First Take on Monday after their loss to the Lions Sunday, continuing the back-and-forth between the team and the television personality.

He told the Redskins "bravo again" for losing the close game that apparently was enough to prove the point he made last week on the show that the Redskins had a loser's mentality and were "inept" and "nonexistent." Smith loudly took issue with Chris Baker's and Ricky-Jean Francois' declaration that the Redskins "run the East," saying they need to be focusing on the big picture.

Baker tweeted at him the next day, demanding respect, and Smith stuck to his guns the next day on First Take. 

On Monday, Smith mocked Jay Gruden for defending his team at a press conference, where he said Smith was "out of line" for his comments and that he didn't know anything about who the Redskins were or the work they put in.

"And of course there’s the great Jay Gruden, because we know he’s great just by his name alone," Smith said. "Let’s be clear about that. We know that he’s great, [because he] takes time out of his busy schedule to comment about me."

"Who gives a damn about hard work?" he went on to say. "It's about results."

Baker held back from engaging with Smith on Twitter this time.

MORE REDSKINS: Consussion protocol for Josh Norman could be complicated

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Redskins injury report: Team will monitor Williams, Scherff

Redskins injury report: Team will monitor Williams, Scherff

While the Redskins are not yet out of the woods regarding Trent Williams’ knee injury, the news sounds better than Williams looked after the game on Sunday.

Jay Gruden confirmed an earlier report that an MRI revealed no structural damage to the left knee of the Pro Bowl left tackle. He went down near the end of the Redskins’ 20-17 loss to the Lions and he needed assistance to get back to the locker room. After talking to the press, he had a decided limp as he walked to the team bus.

“That’s [the MRI results] good news, but we have to still monitor him during the week and see how he does,” said Gruden.

Guard Brandon Scherff left the game briefly after suffering a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. “He’s sore,” said Gruden. “He’s a tough sucker, but he’s sore.”

Scherff will be monitored in practice as well.

Gruden also said that cornerback Bashaud Breeland is sore after suffering a sprained ankle. He missed two games with a right ankle injury earlier this season but Gruden said that his injury is to his left ankle.