- The Washington Times - Friday, August 21, 2015

LANDOVER — From the left and right, the Detroit Lions burst through. Backup left tackle Willie Smith, in the game for a resting Trent Williams, was victimized. Rookie right guard Brandon Scherff was driven back. Right tackle Morgan Moses had trouble holding his ground.

Combined, the failure of the offensive line in the Redskins’ second preseason game left veterans shaking their heads, Scherff delivering flat answers and quarterback Robert Griffin III battered.

“It’s unacceptable,” Scherff said.

“It didn’t feel good,” center Kory Lichtensteiger said. “Felt like we were picking Robert up after every pass play.”

“It definitely makes you cringe,” Williams said. “You don’t want to see your quarterback get hit at all, in the preseason or regular season.”

Griffin was sacked three times, but hit more. Twice, he was struck by unblocked rushers. When he tried to step up in the pocket during an ill-fated second-quarter drive that left him concussed and with a stinger, Griffin fumbled the ball, then was piled on.

Williams has a sore right knee and foot, so he took the night off. In stepped Smith, who played four games for the Redskins in 2011 and 15 last season with the San Diego Chargers. He started once. When asked how many snaps he had with the first unit during the week, Smith said, “Really, none.”

Lions defensive end Phillip Hunt beat Smith around the corner, grabbed Griffin from behind and slammed him to the ground to record a sack.

Behind Smith on the depth chart at left tackle is undrafted rookie Takoby Cofield. Without Williams, the position is exceptionally thin.

“You know, I think Willie played pretty good,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said when asked about depth at left tackle. “Tom Compton, he’s still here. He’s doing some good things. You’ve got Morgan you can flip over there. We’ve got a lot of options and a lot of versatility with our offensive line right now. Not a lot, but when you talk about replacing a Pro Bowler, that’s always a concern, because he is one of our best players on this football team, and usually, you go from Pro Bowler to whoever you go to, it’s not going to be the same.”

Scherff was beaten for the first sack when he was bull-rushed into Griffin.

Griffin also took a ferocious hit when a Lions linebacker came through untouched on a delayed blitz.

The play Griffin was hurt on, two Lions defenders fell on him after he fell on the ball.

Listed as second string at left guard is rookie Arie Kouandijio. Scherff has been switched from tackle inside to guard just a few weeks into his NFL career. Moses played eight games last season and started one.

Williams backed the youngsters on the right side.

“Those guys are highly-touted players,” Williams said. “They’re professionals. They get paid to do a job, and we have all the faith in the world they’re going to get that job done.”

Lichtensteiger said he couldn’t begin to assess what went wrong until watching film later. Williams offered the only solution he knows, one that applies no matter what happens to the quarterback.

“Moving forward,” Williams said. “We have to do that, no matter what today looked like. No matter what the perception of today is, I think we still have to move forward. Even if he came out and the quarterback didn’t hit the ground at all, I think we will still have things to improve on. We’re going to have things to improve on every game.”

That was apparent Thursday night.

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