The Washington Redskins already shaky offensive line has been hit by a dual-injury blow in the early days of training camp. Right tackle Jammal Brown is down with a hip problem, and he has now been joined by left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, according to a report from John Kiem of the Washington Examiner.
Kiem reports that Lichtensteiger will miss the preseason as he recovers from surgery to his problematic right knee. This is a huge blow to the Redskins' running game. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan directs most of the zone stretch running plays to the left side, behind Lichtensteiger and tackle Trent Williams.
Lichtensteiger has the most experience in Mike Shanahan's zone-based schemes, and his absence wrecked the play of the front five in 2011. Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports that Shanahan is hopeful Lichtensteiger will recover in time to start the new season.
The Post article also states that Shanahan is content with his options along the offensive front and that rookie Josh LeRibeus and Maurice Hurt will compete at left guard during Lichtensteiger's absence. Sticking with the current options seemed like a major gamble on Shanahan's part, even before the injuries struck.
Hurt and LeRibeus could do enough to step in if Lichtensteiger is not fully recovered by the start of the season, but neither is likely to make anyone feel better about the state of the line. Hurt is a capable run-blocker, but can be overpowered in pass protection, while LeRibeus has a tenacity the rest of the line lacks, but is unproven and unheralded coming out of the draft.
Brown does little to inspire confidence when healthy, and his latest setback raises serious doubts about whether he will ever be a capable starter in Washington. The options behind him are journeyman Tyler Polumbus or moving last year's rookie free agent Willie Smith over from the left side.
In another Washington Post article, Steve Yanda reports that the team has signed former Jacksonville Jaguars starting tackle, Jordan Black. However, with more accomplished veterans like Chad Clifton, Marcus McNeill and Kyle Kosier still on the market, perhaps Shanahan should take this opportunity to seriously upgrade the talent level along the offensive front.
Shanahan and Bruce Allen have invested a lot in the skill positions this offseason. However, Robert Griffin III, Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon will only function effectively if the line allows them to.