- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2016

When Spencer Long exited the game Sunday with what would later be diagnosed as a concussion, eight-year veteran John Sullivan took to the field to replace the lineman who has become a Redskins’ mainstay at center.

A quick insertion into a game in which a player wasn’t expected to play can get chaotic, but Sullivan said that’s the job.

“The second you know you’re going in there, your adrenalin kicks up, you’re good to go,” Sullivan said. “You don’t really have a chance to think about the grand scheme of things. You just react, go in there and do what you’re supposed to do.”

Sullivan joined the Redskins in late September, and while he may not be a starting offensive lineman, he has had ample time working with quarterback Kirk Cousins, enough that the two can click right away.

“Fortunately, with John, we made little to no adjustments,” Cousins said. “John did a great job. It was a seamless transition. He was right on it, and that has been John’s reputation around the league for a long time. He is a very intelligent player. He can jump right in and make it happen.”

But one game-changing play came on Sullivan’s watch. After Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 53-yard field goal attempt, Washington assumed the ball on their own 43. On the second play of the drive, defensive tackle Calais Campbell exploded through the line, sacking Cousins and stripping the ball in the process. The ball was picked up by linebacker Markus Golden, who returned it all the way to the Redskins’ 10. The great field position set up a Cardinals’ touchdown, and the Redskins lost their lead.

On the play before the sack, left tackle Ty Nsekhe exited the game with an ankle injury. Vinston Painter replaced him. Still, Sullivan says the shuffles on the the line didn’t cause the offensive misplay.

“From an outside perspective, it seems like that’s really tough, but you’re constantly rotating guys in and out in practice,” Sullivan said. “I mean, we’re used to changing faces, because you have to be. It’s just the nature of the sport. I don’t think that had anything to do with Ty coming out and [Vinston] coming in.”

Cousins agreed. He said that the fumble certainly played a role in the outcome of the game.

“All plays are important, all plays have a big impact — certainly that one was one of them,” Cousins said. “They made a good play. It is going to happen through the course of a game, and going against the top defense in the NFL, you have to know that they are all not going to go perfectly, and you just hope you make enough plays to come away with a win in the end.”

Long will enter the NFL’s concussion protocol, and more information will become available in the upcoming week. But today marked the final day of starting left tackle Trent Williams’ suspension (Williams was suspended four days for violating the league’s drug policy). 

Williams’ return could help solidify the Redskins’ line, especially on Cousins’ blind side.

 

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