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Footballoutsiders.com "Word of Muth: Things Change"


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http://www.footballoutsiders.com/word-muth/2010/word-muth-1 <--- for full article

07 Oct 2010

Word of Muth: Things Change </A itxtvisited="1">

by Ben Muth

What a difference a couple of weeks make. Only two opening-day starters on the offensive line were in for Donovan McNabb's final kneel down this weekend. During the course of a 16-game schedule, injuries are bound to happen, but losing 60 percent of your o-line (either to injury, illness, or benching) in the first month of the season isn't typical. Despite the shuffling up front, the Redskins were able to beat the Eagles and move into a tie for first place in the division, thanks to the new faces in the trenches and a new-found running game.

Casey Rabach is the last man standing from the original interior of the offensive line. The veteran center has fared better after a rough first game facing Jay Ratliff. He seems to excel at working with his guards, whether he is over taking their blocks so they can climb to the second level, or the other way around.

That being said, he can still struggle when he is forced to block nose tackles one on one. Mike Patterson, in particular, caused some problems in the backfield. Once, he beat Rabach cleanly with a quick move off the snap to force a bad throw from McNabb. He would also get some good penetration in the running game when he wasn't being double teamed. However, Rabach usually did have some kind of help (as most centers usually do) and was able to handle his assignment and his man most of the game.

Derrick Dockery and Artis Hicks were the starters going into the season, but they have been replaced by Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery, respectively. As the season has progressed, Lichtensteiger has flat out beaten Dockery for the top spot on the depth chart, with injuries playing no role. This surprised me because I thought Dockery was more productive against the Cowboys, but I'm also not in position meetings or at practice, so I could be missing a lot.

Montgomery replaced Hicks in the game against Philadelphia due to an undisclosed illness. Hicks certainly looked well enough in the time he played this week. He didn't dominate, but he wasn't a liability out there. Montgomery did well for himself in relief, not making any major mistakes and generally finding work (finding work is coach speak for blocking somebody on any given play). If I had one criticism of him, it's that he had a tendency to lose his footing as plays would go on. He did a nice job on the initial block usually, but he would sometimes get thrown off onto the ground or his knees as defenders would disengage. It didn't really seem to hurt the Skins this week, but it can clog up running lanes, and is a good way to injure your teammates by rolling into their legs. If there is one thing Washington's line doesn't need, it is another injury.

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