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Redskins patchwork offensive line’s struggles on full display

- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2011

TORONTO — Ever since left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams went down with leg injuries against Philadelphia on Oct. 16, the Washington Redskins' offensive line has struggled to do much of anything right.

The unit's problems were on full display in Sunday's 23-0 loss to Buffalo. The Bills entered the game with only four sacks but had nine for 56 yards Sunday.

"Individual breakdowns and they blitzed a couple times, so it was the whole group," left tackle Sean Locklear said.

Each lineman, it seemed, took his turn, and the Redskins' offense crumbled as a result.

Meanwhile, the Bills rotated defensive linemen and stayed fresh. The emphasis they put on improving their pass rush during the bye week was evident.

"That would be the biggest understatement of the year," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "They gave such a great effort, did a good job of working technique and getting back to fundamentals. You've got to depend on the fundamentals when you come back off a bye week. They did a great job of that."

The Redskins' technique breakdowns were everywhere. Linemen were pushed back into the pocket, disrupting Beck's reads. After a while, Beck seemed to sense pressure before it actually arrived.

"I want to go back and see on tape how I could have helped that cause," Beck said. "There were some that were probably on me there. Part of protection is on the quarterback. It's my job to get the ball out of my hands."

Even the running backs played a part. Rookie running back Roy Helu ran out of the backfield on third-and-16 in the second quarter instead of staying in to block. Free safety Jairus Byrd blitzed off the edge right past Helu and was unblocked en route to his sack.

First catch for Hankerson

Rookie receiver Leonard Hankerson recorded his first NFL reception in the first half. On third-and-8 from the Redskins' 28-yard line, he ran an in cut against the Bills' zone and caught John Beck's throw for 23 yards. It was his only catch of the game.

Hankerson, a third-round pick last April, spun the ball after the play in celebration. It was a stark contrast to his first NFL play. Last Sunday against Carolina, he ran a different route than Beck expected, and the ball was intercepted. Hankerson took criticism from fans on Twitter and later responded using his account on the microblogging site.

Fletcher extends streak

Linebacker London Fletcher (hamstring) started, as expected. That extended his consecutive games streak to 215. It's tied for the longest active streak in the NFL. He pulled into a tie with cornerback Ronde Barber, whose Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a bye.

Fletcher marked the occasion with an interception in the end zone late in the second quarter. When Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to force a pass to Stevie Johnson, he tumbled into the path of the ball and caught it.

Extra points

• A Redskins field goal try was blocked for the third time this season. When Graham Gano attempted a 49-yarder early in the second quarter, Buffalo defensive end Spencer Johnson surged up the middle and got his hand up to knock the ball out of the air. It came seven plays after Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo recovered a fumble at the Bills' 31-yard line.

• A field goal attempt was blocked in similar fashion against Arizona in Week 2. Dallas blocked one in Week 3 after a botched hold.

• Quarterback John Beck hurt his right hand in the first half when it hit guard Will Montgomery's helmet on a follow-through. Beck stayed in the game.

"I was worried the play right after because I couldn't move it, but I was fine the rest of the game," he said.

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