The Washington Redskins‘ injury-riddled offensive line might be reshuffled again for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys because of the latest round of injuries. Undrafted rookie Willie Smith might start in place of injured right tackle Jammal Brown (left groin) and backup Sean Locklear (ankle).
“It ain’t really about sucking it up,” Brown said. “If you’ve got a tear, you’ve got a tear. You don’t want it to get any worse. I’m just seeing what I can do, and we’re trying to get Willie prepared if things don’t go right so he can play.”
Smith, who played college ball at East Carolina, made the 53-man roster to start the season but has not played a regular-season snap.
“How he reacts in game situations you never know,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “Maurice [Hurt] did a good job reacting the first time he got in there. He played well for a guy with no experience. Willie’s still learning — can he transfer from practice to the game situation? He’s got a lot of talent. He’s got a big upside. We’ll see when he plays.”
Tyler Polumbus, who signed with the team as a free agent on Nov. 9, is positioned to start at left guard with Hurt nursing an injured knee.
He played left guard for the Seattle Seahawks’ regular-season finale and two playoff games last season. He also is familiar with Washington’s offense because he played for Shanahan’s Denver Broncos in 2008.
“There’s a ton of carryover,” Polumbus said. “There’s some different verbiage, but for the most part it’s all the same offense. That part has been great.”
Polumbus is 6-foot-8, which is extremely tall for a guard. Tackles usually are the tallest linemen because their length is an advantage blocking defenders in space on the edge.
“I’ve got to make sure I play low,” he said.
On defense, the Redskins could be without strong safety LaRon Landry. He was limited in Friday’s practice because of his sore Achilles’ tendon.
He emphasized afterward that if he doesn’t play on Sunday, it would be because the coaches held him out, not because he wanted to sit.
“If I do sit out, it’s not my fault,” he said.
Shanahan knows what he needs
In light of the offense’s ineptitude and the defense’s improvement from last season, he was asked this week whether he could prioritize adding offensive personnel in the offseason.
“There’s no question,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to target something in the offseason. And I really think we were fine on offense, but when you lose four or five of those guys, you’re not quite as deep as you’d like.
“But you’ve always got a plan, but you’re always looking at the salary cap. You’ve taking a look at offense/defense. And you’re taking a look at drafts. Then you try to come up with the best plan.”
Riley to build on debut in second start
Inside linebacker Perry Riley is expected to make his second career start on Sunday. He had four tackles for loss against Miami last week, but he missed two opportunities for sacks. He also was fined $7,500 for his horse-collar tackle of Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas.
“He’s got a lot to work on, but, for the first time out, I thought he was active,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He made a lot of plays. He’s got a lot of little things he’s got to clean up, but that’s going to be a continuous battle. I think he did a good job. He was poised. Nothing really rattled him. I was impressed with him.”
Shanahan comfortable in NFC East
“We look at a lot of film throughout the offseason,” he said. “You get a pretty good feel for their personnel. Each year is a little bit different with free agency and the draft. You’re constantly trying to keep up on things. Usually most teams you’ve got a good feel for their personnel and good feel for the personnel in the division because the games are so big.”