Concerns mount on O-line
That’s when the real speculation begins.
But will the group be effective? Will Clinton Portis have the same kind of running room he did early last year? Will Campbell be sacked fewer than the 38 times he went down in 2008? Will Zorn be hamstrung in his playcalling?
“If we stay healthy, our pass protection is going to be better, and I definitely expect the same results with our run blocking,” Zorn said.
“My level of concern is that we’re not getting the reps to be cohesive,” Zorn said. “They’re nagging pulls and strains, so I’m not as concerned about the injury as I am about the lack of work we get when we are injured. I don’t like to say it’s a part of training camp, but when you’re struggling, those guys are so big and they’re banging and moving and trying to do it right, you get little nagging pains.”
The Redskins’ defensive line has held the advantage in most practices, and Bugel admits the blitz pickup needs to improve. On one play Wednesday, cornerback DeAngelo Hall rushed and was unblocked. But Campbell sees the value in resting the starters.
“It’s tough right now because a lot of guys are getting nicked-up and bruised and having to sit out practices,” he said. “But those guys have to sit out because we want them back healthy instead of continuing to add on to their injuries.”
Campbell took snaps behind a first-unit line of Samuels, Dockery, Montgomery, Rinehart and Bridges in the first practice. Rabach replaced Montgomery, and Devin Clark took over for Samuels in the second workout.
When healthy, if the pass protection improves as Zorn expects, it adds more chapters to his playbook - chiefly the downfield passing game that disappeared down the stretch.
In first-half wins over New Orleans, Dallas and Philadelphia, 15 of Campbell’s 96 passes traveled 15 or more yards. He was 9-for-17 for 274 yards (one touchdown) and was sacked nine times.
In second-half losses to Pittsburgh, the Giants and Baltimore, 16 of his 118 attempts traveled 15 or more yards. But forced to throw long under pressure more often, Campbell was 3-for-16 for 61 yards (three interceptions) and was sacked 13 times.
“A quarterback, if you don’t have pressure, feels freer to throw on a different kind of rhythm,” Zorn said.
As the lead communicator of the line, Rabach said Zorn hasn’t overhauled the scheme to improve the performance.
“There are a couple of tweaks here and there protectionwise, but it’s mostly about winning one-on-one matchups,” Rabach said.
The starters expect a smooth transition once everybody is back on the field, at which point they can work toward erasing the tough second half of last season.