ASHBURN — Jay Gruden couldn’t help but laugh. After naming guard Tyler Catalina as the Redskins’ contingency plan in case Brandon Scherff (knee) misses Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins coach laughed while adding an important caveat.
“If he can go,” Gruden said, referencing Catalina recovering from a concussion.
The Redskins offensive line is banged up — with four of their five starters missing practice throughout the week.
On Friday, the Redskins ruled out center Spencer Long (knee/quad) and backup tackle Ty Nsekhe (core muscle). Catalina, Scherff, Trent Williams (knee) and Morgan Moses (ankles) were all listed as questionable.
The Redskins have had to adjust without their normal group upfront.
“We’ve been putting guys all over the joint here, as of late,” Gruden said. “We’ll find somebody in there.”
Scherff, who suffered an MCL injury last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, has been practicing with a knee brace and said he was optimistic about playing. He said he has received 3 ½ hours of treatment per day.
Scherff said he has been trying to keep his knee loose and is wearing a brace to protect it. The additional gear is something the offensive guard is used to — wearing two braces in his five years in college at Iowa.
“I’m trying my hardest [to play],” Scherff said.
Of the Redskins’ injuries on the offensive line, Gruden said Thursday that Long is “probably the biggest concern” over the long term. Long has been dealing with quad tendinitis, which flared up during the Eagles’ loss.
Rookie center Chase Roullier will start Sunday in Long’s place. Drafted in the sixth round, Roullier played 26 snaps against the Eagles, filling in at guard for Scherff.
After making the team in training camp, Roullier has been the primary backup center, but has learned to play both guard positions, too.
This week, Roullier said offensive line coach Bill Callahan “went back to the basics a little” so any replacements upfront could catch up to speed.
Roullier added the injuries have been tough.
“You start to worry if you have to throw in a defensive lineman or something,” Roullier said. “Obviously we have a lot of guys who have toughened through injuries and are some warriors out there. It was a great effort by the offensive line in general. We’re all fighting and trying to do our jobs.”
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said the team “feels good” about starting a rookie at center. Roullier started in Week 3 of the preseason against the Cincinnati Bengals after Long had arthroscopic surgery in one of his knees.
“He’s got a good demeanor about himself,” Cousins said. “He can anchor well and he is only going to get better as a player. Now as a rookie, is it a challenge? Sure, but we feel good about his potential and we just have got to work through growing pains. I think those of us that are veterans have got to be that much better on game day and really help lead and set a good example and make plays.”
Moses was a limited participant in practice Friday after sitting out Thursday. The Redskins right tackle sprained both of his ankles against the Eagles.
Williams, on the other hand, has kept up his status quo of not practicing. The left tackle has been dealing with “knee soreness” since the Redskins’ Week 4 loss in Kansas City, but will need surgery to repair a torn ligament, at some point.
And despite re-aggravating his injury in Philadelphia, Gruden said Monday that Williams is “day-to-day.”
Shawn Lauvao, the Redskins’ left guard, is the only healthy starter on the offensive line.
But Gruden said the offensive line’s continuity eases the burden of missing practice during the week.
“Well, the good thing is these guys have been together for some time now,” Gruden said. “It’s been a couple years now that Long and Scherff and Williams and Moses and Lauvao have been playing together, so a week here or there isn’t the end of the world.
“You’d love for them to all be healthy and working in unison day after day after day but you don’t always have that luxury, and this is just one of those times.”