- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2019

ASHBURN — The offensive linemen trickled into the Redskins’ locker room, drenched in sweat, as has been customary over the past few seasons. Since the arrival of offensive line coach Bill Callahan in 2015, the unit routinely logs extra reps in practice — long after most players are already settled at their lockers.

These days, Callahan’s workload is the one constant for the offensive line — which has rarely faced so much uncertainty heading into a season under coach Jay Gruden.

On one hand, the Redskins should be used to having to shuffle different players upfront after injuries forced them to mix-and-match linemen over the past two seasons. But at the same time, Washington has generally enjoyed continuity on the line to begin each year. The last time Washington began Week 1 with more than one new starter along the line was 2015, when the unit was overhauled after allowing the second-most sacks the year prior.

If Trent Williams is actually prepared to carry his holdout into the regular season — and reports indicate that he is — the Redskins’ left side could look entirely new.

“We’ve got to go in there with all the confidence we have right now,” center Chase Roullier said. “We’re going in there very confident with the guys we have next to us and that’s all we can do, just continue to push forward and play it great as a group.”

Over the past two years, injuries have decimated the Redskins’ offensive line. Fourteen different linemen took at least one offensive snap in 2018, up 11 from 2017 — and it showed. The Redskins gave up the 12th-most sacks each year (44 in 2018, 41 in 2017).

The Redskins, at the very least, are looking for stability. While Williams holding out is obviously not ideal, Washington hopes its choices at left guard will be an upgrade over the oft-injured Shawn Lauvao. The spot was the obvious weak link upfront, and Washington tried to address it by signing free agent Ereck Flowers and drafting rookie Wes Martin out of Indiana.

Through training camp and two preseason games, the Redskins have alternated between using Flowers and Martin with the first-team. A natural tackle, Flowers is learning the position for the first time, while Martin is getting used to the NFL in general. Roullier said both have made “huge strides” since arriving.

At left tackle, second-year Geron Christian and veteran Donald Penn are both candidates to start. So far, Christian has received more first-team reps than Penn, but it wouldn’t be an upset if that shifted soon. In any event, Gruden expects Christian and Penn to be ready to start.

“They’re developing,” Gruden said. “We’ve just got to do a good job of mixing and matching guys and get them all equal opportunities against different people and see how they do and then play the best one.”

Gruden wants his interior linemen, in particular, to be able to play multiple spots. Fifth-rounder Ross Pierschbacher, for instance, has spent time at guard and center with the reserves. The Redskins hope they are better equipped to withstand injuries this year, given they’re additions through the draft and free agency.

Washington’s offensive line, meanwhile, hasn’t been truly horrendous since 2014, when it went 4-12 and allowed 58 sacks.

Even then, the Redskins had Williams to rely on — making it all the stranger that the seven-time Pro Bowler might never play for Washington again.

“It’s a little bit weird (to not have that continuity) at times, but over the past couple of years, we’ve had guys rolling in and out,” Roullier said. “So it’s something that we’ve gotten used to doing, just getting ready with whoever we have here, taking advantage of whatever reps we get together. Just continuing to get comfortable with every snap we get to the point we’re ready to go.”

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