- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008

Once Washington’s starting offensive line ambled to the bench after two series - during which it had helped rack up 101 yards and build a 7-3 lead over the visiting Buffalo Bills in Saturday night’s preseason home opener - the makeup of the second unit could have given any Redskins fan pause.

With tackles Todd Wade and Stephon Heyer, who spent time as starters in 2007, still sidelined with injuries, the Redskins turned to a less-heralded line. Left tackle Chad Rinehart is a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa, left guard Tavares Washington was a former member of the 49ers’ practice squad, center Justin Geisinger played two games with the Titans and right tackle Devin Clark is a rookie free agent. Veteran right guard Jason Fabini was the only familiar name.

That line was part of the Redskins’ 65-yard touchdown march. And the same line - with Maryland rookie free agent Andrew Crummey replacing Fabini - helped the offense consume all but 23 seconds of the final 10:07 of the game to preserve the 17-14 victory.

“They were great,” coach Jim Zorn said. “I thought they took a lot of pride in that last drive and really came off the ball and established an opportunity for [running back Marcus Mason] to find a seam and sustain a long drive.”

Redskins line coach Joe Bugel’s extra work with the second line last week paid dividends against the Bills.

“Coach Buges kept us out there after practice after the [starters] went in throughout the week to prep us with some extra work,” Washington said. “I think it showed in the game. After we came in and the [starters] went out, we drove it down the field and came off feeling more confident than we did going in. We really understood that what Coach Buges took us through that week was going to pay off.”

Zorn noted how well the linemen played in space on the screen pass that Ladell Betts turned into an 12-yard touchdown. And he had particular praise for Geisinger, who spent most of last season as a guard on Washington’s practice squad. Geisinger is trying to convince Zorn and Bugel to keep him as a ninth or 10th lineman instead of shifting Pete Kendall from left guard if anything should happen to center Casey Rabach.

“For the most part, [Justin] did a great job of communicating in there,” Zorn said. “They all talked. They all worked together and kept their [helmets] on the guys they should have kept them on. It was a great effort by that group.”

Snapping to veteran backup Todd Collins and then to young passers Colt Brennan and Derek Devine, Geisinger anchored a line that generated 240 yards on 47 snaps. The quarterbacks completed 12 of 21 passes for 118 yards behind the second unit, while Mason, Betts and Nehemiah Broughton churned out an impressive 114 yards on 26 carries. The Redskins wore down the Bills with six first downs on the final 88-yard drive.

“It was pretty fun,” said Clark, who started at New Mexico the past two seasons. “You’ve always got to look at it like this game is a big job interview. All of us are trying to do the same thing, and that is make this team.”

While Heyer, Fabini and Rinehart are locks to make the team, the other reserves are scrambling for a spot or two. It depends on numbers and whether Wade, now only a right tackle, sticks after he returns from a high ankle sprain.

Notes - Reserve receiver Anthony Mix won’t practice this week after fracturing a rib against the Bills, but starter Antwaan Randle El’s injured right wrist shouldn’t prevent him from working. Rookie safety Chris Horton’s reported stomach virus turned out to be a colon infection. He could return Saturday at the New York Jets, as could running back Rock Cartwright (ribs) and free safety LaRon Landry and rookie receiver Devin Thomas, each of whom missed the past two weeks with ailing hamstrings.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers and linebacker Rocky McIntosh, both coming off major knee surgeries, will continue to practice but won’t play Saturday. Receiver Malcolm Kelly and linebacker H.B. Blades, each of whom was scoped recently, will start jogging this week.

In the punting competition, rookie Durant Brooks will play against the Jets; veteran Derrick Frost will get his second shot Aug. 23 at Carolina.

cStaff writer Corey Masisak contributed to this article.