Youth Movement Starts on OL
By necessity, a youth movement is underway on the Redskins' offensive line.
With Chris Samuels going onto injured reserve, the Redskins signed Devin Clark from the practice squad. The former New Mexico Lobo, who signed as an undrafted free agent last spring, is 22 years old, 6-4, 302. He will practice at both tackle spots as Jon Jansen's status is uncertain. Jansen will undergo an MRI to examine his sprained knee.
In addition, it appears that Chad Reinhart will be active on game day for the first time this Sunday. The team's third-round draft pick is a more natural guard, but he did play tackle some during the preseason.
This all comes as the team's offensive line is undergoing a firestorm of criticism. The unit was whipped soundly from tackle to tackle and all three spots in between on a regular basis on Sunday night in Baltimore. The poor performance was the continuation of a pattern of bad play against strong defensive units over the past several weeks.
It has become clear that the team will have to rebuild the unit starting soon. The five starters are all well over 31 years of age and they are transforming from being wily veterans to being old guys right before our eyes.
The performances of Clark and Reinhardt over the next few weeks will go a long way towards determining the path the Redskins must take this offseason. If they can perform well, whether it's as starters or in reserve roles, the team may not have to invest draft picks and/or free agent dollars in offensive linemen, or at least not a lot of either. If they show that they are projects a few years away from contributing, if they ever do at all, the first-round pick will almost have to go for an O-lineman and some cap room will have to be cleared out for a free agent starter or two.
The mystery man here is Stephon Heyer. It appears that he will start on the left side. He did well at right tackle last year, moving into Jansen's slot later in the season. This year he won the starting job on the right side, got injured and hasn't been able to move back ahead of Jansen, who hasn't played well in two months. It appears that he will start at left tackle but he no longer appears to be the bright prospect he once was.
Whatever Zorn and Bugel do, they should not put Jason Fabini in as a stopgap. Yes, I know that the playoffs are on the line (and three in a row will get them in) but sometimes you have to look to the future. Giving Fabini meaningful action in these last three games would take such action away from players who need to develop and who need to be evaluated. Starting Fabini appears to be the course they are going to take and it’s a mistake.
And speaking of old guys among a group of old guys, Pete Kendall has to go after this season. He hasn't played horribly but he'll be 36 by the time training camp rolls around next year. Never will he be the dominant force with a mean streak that the team needs at the position.
Here is what I'd like to see the Redskins' starting OL to be on opening day 2009:
- LT Samuels—At 32 he still has a few good years left in him.
- LG Reinhart—After a year of learning, he should be ready to go.
- C Rabach—This position could be upgraded if the team had a second-round pick; they still could trade back for one. Geisinger could take the spot here as well.
- RG Thomas—I'm not 100% sure that Thomas still has it in him, so I wouldn't be shocked if a first-round guard wound up here.
- RT Clark—Or Heyer if he can get his act together.
That would be at least a 40% turnover from old to young and probably 60% as I don't think we'll see both Rabach and Thomas back as starters.
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org