- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2018

ASHBURN — Heading to Houston has become an annual offseason tradition for Washington Redskins offensive linemen.

For the last two years, left tackle Trent Williams has invited teammates to his hometown to train, eat and bond a few weeks before training camp in Richmond. Not every member of the line has attended, but it’s Williams’ good-faith effort to create the “Hogs 2.0” — a callback to the Redskins’ dominant line of the 1980s.

But with Williams sidelined for six months after recent knee surgery, it’s unclear if the group’s trip will still happen. Right tackle Morgan Moses said Monday he wouldn’t mind organizing the details if Williams needs the help.

“Them workouts in Houston, they’re tough,” Moses said. “Besides the 120-degree weather there, it’s a good thing for us because not only do the older guys get the experience of ‘Hey, this is what it’s about,’ but the younger guys … see this is how [the veterans] work every day.”

If the trip occurs, the group of offensive lineman who show up could have different faces, as well.

Since 2015, the Redskins have largely had the same projected starters across the offensive line. The team’s injuries this season forced more adjustments than usual, and now, with free agency approaching, the Redskins have some key decisions to make.

Left guard Shawn Lauvao and center Spencer Long — both starters — are set to hit the free agency market. Both have been with the Redskins since 2014 and played well when healthy.

But Lauvao and Long missed significant portions of 2017. Lauvao appeared in only nine games before being shut down with a stinger injury. Long, meanwhile, was placed on injured reserve with quad tendonitis, appearing in only seven games.

In 2015 and 2016, Kirk Cousins was sacked just 26 and 23 times, respectively. This season, he was sacked a career-high 41 times.

To protect Cousins — or any quarterback, given Cousins’ uncertainty — the Redskins will have to stabilize the unit in the offseason.

“When you have a good offensive line like that, it’s hard to keep them all together,” Moses said. “The key is trying to get guys, if you don’t keep guys here, is trying to get guys that fit the mold and the chemistry that we bring as we call ourselves ‘Hogs 2.0.”

Moses was the team’s only offensive lineman to play all 16 games this season.

Still, don’t confuse that for a clean bill of health. Moses spent the season playing on injured ankles. Moses, too, had offseason surgery by noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson on Thursday in Charolette.

Williams, too, had knee-realignment surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right knee. The torn ligament, as well as a bone bruise, limited the star left tackle to just 10 games, including the last three. Williams said he hopes to be back by training camp.

The Redskins used 36 unique of different offensive line combinations in 2017, seven of which featured an extra lineman. All five opening-day starters were hurt at some point.

By the end of Week 17, the Redskins finished the Giants game with Tyler Catalina at left tackle — making the undrafted guard the fourth person to play the position this season.

But there were promising signs, too. Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff were selected to the Pro Bowl for their play.

Chase Roullier, a sixth-round rookie from Wyoming, emerged as a quality option at center and is capable of playing either guard spot as well.

With Long and Lauvao’s future with the Redskins uncertain, Roullier is a natural candidate to replace either of them along the line. The rookie started seven games for the Redskins this season.

“I feel like I progressed pretty well,” Roullier said. “Obviously as a rookie, you’re going to start off with growing pains, but I think as time went on, I was able to get a little more comfortable and start playing the game the way I’m able to play.”

Roullier said it was never easy to keep having to adjust to the number of different linemen each week

Moses, though, said during the season, the offensive line spent Thursday nights going to dinner.

“It helps because now I trust that guy,” Moses said. “I know a little piece of him rather than him just coming off the street and ‘Oh let’s hit the field.’ It’s building that chemistry and camaraderie.”

The process will start all over again next season.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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