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Redskins' offensive line could hold key

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Posted Sept. 10, 2011 @ 10:56 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

The Redskins are going forward for now with Rex Grossman as their quarterback, although as our sources say, that is not set in stone; John Beck could get the call if Grossman struggles. The running game appears to be in decent shape with Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain and Roy Helu, although we might not see all three each week with Mike Shanahan often preferring to keep only two tailbacks active every week. And the receiving group has more depth than in recent seasons — perhaps more talent, too.

But what about the offensive line?

It's a group that is not proven yet, but the Redskins are telling people privately that they are very encouraged by this group and that Mike Shanahan likes the situation better now than he had since the day he arrived.

For one thing, the versatility is good. The starting trio inside — OGs Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester and C Will Montgomery, plus backup Erik Cook — all can play any of those positions, so injuries are less of a worry. And it could turn out that the two starting tackles, Trent Williams and Jammal Brown, end up being the strength of the group. Williams showed up to camp in good condition and appears to have improved, heading into his second season.

The depth of the group might not be outstanding (eight O-linemen on the roster), but the collective play of the starting five — assuming they all stay healthy — might be a surprising benefit.

Last season, the line was a team weakness. It never jelled as a group, and the individual members failed to step up, as well. That's why there was little hope that this could be a top unit heading into the preseason, but the results were pretty positive. They allowed six sacks of Grossman (two) and Beck (four) combined in the preseason out of 107 pass plays, but two of those sacks clearly were on Beck, who failed to get rid of the ball in time.

Don't be surprised if the line ends up doing a pretty respectable job, especially if the running game proves to be a staple.

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