ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Long before the possibility of Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson joining the Redskins was ever a possibility, Trent Williams made up Hogs 2.0 T-shirts for Washington’s offensive linemen.
The original “Hogs” offensive line paved the way for three Super Bowl titles, so this group has a long way to go before they can compared to that group. But with Williams at left tackle, Shawn Lauvao at left guard, Chase Roullier at center, Brandon Scherff at right guard and Morgan Moses at right tackle, the Redskins have a group that could continue bulldozing its way to victories this season.
“Their versatility is the key,” coach Jay Gruden said. “They can run, they can pull, they’re strong at the point of attack and they’re pretty athletic. You can have a lot of versatility there.”
Versatility helped the Williams-led line bully the Arizona Cardinals in run-blocking and pass-protection, something it’ll try to do again Sunday in the home opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Smith put up 255 yards passing in Week 1 and Peterson, Chris Thompson and the rest of Washington’s ground game rushed for 182 yards in the kind of balanced showing Williams always believed could happen as long as all five starters are healthy.
“I’ve been saying the whole time that our biggest issue is just getting everybody on the field,” Williams said. “I feel like when we have everybody on the field, we’re more than confident that we can handle whatever job the coaches ask us to do. Obviously having everybody out there, when we’ve been out there in the past, we’ve done pretty good with a balanced offense, with running the ball and passing the ball.”
The Redskins ran the ball 42 times and attempted to pass it 33 times at Arizona, a balance Gruden would love to keep up. The offensive line’s equal proportion of being good in the run and pass games makes that possible.
But no one’s quite sure why the Redskins’ line is almost equally good in each aspect. Coach Bill Callahan has linemen work a long time after practice, which gives them extra time to work together and improve any weakness.
“That just allows us to get little things polished up here or there,” Roullier said. “Any little extra work you can get on your little fundamental techniques and whatnot, that’s going to help you every day while you’re out there.”
Other than Roullier replacing Spencer Long in the middle, this is the same starting offensive line Washington had to begin last season. Lauvao was re-signed after the draft and plugged back in, and the unit’s continuity has been on display.
Peterson said after one preseason game he can’t wait to run behind this offensive line, and Smith has learned firsthand just what it can do to protect him and give him some room to run.
“I’ve been really impressed with those guys,” Smith said. “I feel like they can do about everything. They take a lot of pride in being able to do a lot. They don’t get pigeonholed as a single player or as a group. They can do it all: They’re good in space, they can pound it, they’re good in pass pro. I think that’s a strength not only of theirs but obviously ours as an offense and a team.”
Of course, the line is only the start of the offense’s success. Williams gives a lot of credit for Washington’s balance to Peterson and Thompson for making linemen look good.
“It makes our job easy because you got two dynamic rushers who can really take the ball all the way no matter what part of the field you’re on and are pretty prolific coming out of the backfield,” Williams said. ” Having those guys clicking like they were, it does make the O-line’s job easier, it makes the quarterback’s job easier and it makes the coaches’ job easier.”
NOTES: Gruden said WR Trey Quinn (ankle) was also placed on injured reserve along with Cam Sims. Each player had ankle surgery and could be healthy in six or seven weeks. … WR Jehu Chesson was elevated from the practice squad to replace Quinn on the 53-man roster. … WR Maurice Harris (concussion) could miss the Colts game, making recently signed Brian Quick more likely to be active.
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