By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
20 questions in 20 days
As we count down to the first game of the Redskins’ season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.
Question 6: Does the offensive line have enough depth?
The background: Last year the Redskins started the season 3-1 with the same five offensive linemen playing every snap. Then injuries struck on the offensive line and the team’s fortunes took a precipitous decline at the same time. They won just two games the rest of the way and the O-line struggled. The low point was giving up 10 sacks to the Bills in a Week 8 shutout loss in Toronto. The Redskins made some changes at the position, bringing back none of the backups who were on the roster at the start of 2011.
Tandler: The Redskins’ backup linemen could fairly be described as a rag-tag bunch. Two, rookie guards Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis, were drafted in the third and fifth rounds respectively. Maurice Hurt was a seventh-round pick in 2011 and he received few accolades for his play starting half of the season at left guard. Hurt’s eight games played were eight more than Jordan Black, the swing tackle who was out of football last year. The Redskins already are starting one backup with Tyler Polumbus, who they picked up in midseason last year, at right tackle in place of the injured Jammal Brown. None inspires great confidence but you can always hide one weak spot. If one starter is out of a game, the Redskins should be OK. Multiple injuries along the line, however, could have us seeing more 10-sack performances.
El-Bashir: Among the questions facing the Redskins as they prepare for New Orleans, this probably ranks No. 1. If Coach Mike Shanahan wasn’t worried, he wouldn’t have attempted to claim two linemen on waivers Sunday. When healthy, the starting unit is adequate. But right now, it’s not healthy. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger says he’ll be ready for the Saints after a second surgical procedure on his right knee in 10 months. But how ready? It’s seems doubtful right tackle Jammal Brown will suit up at all this season due to a bum hip. Brown’s backup, Tyler Polumbus, had a strong preseason, but how will he fare when the games count? Questions abound. But this much we know: If Robert Griffin III is injured as a result of inadequate protection, the O-line will be the least of the Redskins’ concerns.
20 questions in 20 days
Jammal Brown play this year?
#19 Aug.21—Will Chris Cooley make the team?
#18 Aug. 22—Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
#17 Aug. 23—Is Garçon a No. 1 receiver?
#16 Aug. 24—Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
#15 Aug. 25—Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
#14 Aug. 26—Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
#13 Aug. 27—Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
#12 Aug. 28—Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
#11 Aug. 29—Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
#10 Aug. 30—How much can Hightower contribute this year?
#9 Aug. 31—Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
#8 Yesterday—Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
#7 Yesterday—What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
#6 Today—Is the offensive line depth good enough?
#5 Tomorrow—Will a running back by committee work?
#4 Wednesday—Should we expect a sophomore slump from Ryan Kerrigan?
#3 Thursday—How many wins is enough?
#2 Friday—How much should RG3 run?
#1 Saturday—Can RG3 . . . ?