BREAKING:

Redskins' gamble already starting to crumble

The SportsXchange

The Redskins gave up three first-round draft choices and a second-rounder for the right to select face of the franchise rookie Robert Griffin III and make him their 22nd quarterback in 20 years. They gave free agent receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan $18.5 million guaranteed with the expectation of getting more big plays and yards after the catch.

But other than signing tackle James Lee, who was benched last year in Tampa Bay (and couldn't make it through the first week of camp this summer before being sidelined by a balky knee), drafting SMU guard/center Josh LeRibeus in the third round and South Dakota tackle Tim Compton in the sixth, Washington didn't address a shaky offensive line that surrendered 10 sacks in a shutout defeat to a so-so Buffalo defense.

The lack of a high-profile addition came even though the Redskins finished their 5-11 season with rookie free agent Willie Smith at left tackle in place of the suspended Trent Williams, seventh-rounder Maurice Hurt at left guard in place of the injured Kory Lichtensteiger and street free agent Tyler Polumbus at right tackle in place of the injured Jammal Brown, a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle with New Orleans.

This spring, Brown had seemingly been re-generated at 31 by yoga and pilates while Lichtensteiger was recovering nicely from a torn ACL and MCL, and Williams was saying and, apparently doing, all the right things. But when center Will Montgomery and right guard Chris Chester are your reliables, you don't exactly have the five blocks of granite up front.

And Washington's stand-pat approach began crumbling even before camp began on July 26. Brown reinjured his hip running sprints the previous day and was placed on the physically unable to perform list. Nine days later, he finally began rehab at Redskins Park with no timetable for his return.

"We're not going to activate him, take him off PUP until he's ready to go," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "If he's able to go and we feel like there's a good chance he'll stay injury-free, he'll be on our football team. If not, obviously he can't."

Lichtensteiger, unable to practice again after two days of non-contact drills, had loose particles removed from his surgically-repaired knee on July 30 and is expected to be sidelined until the Sept. 9 opener. That game on turf against a sure-to-be-fired-up Saints defense in New Orleans will be the first in almost 11 months for Lichtensteiger, who like Polumbus, first played for Shanahan in Denver.

So while Williams, Shanahan's first draft pick after coming to Washington in 2010, is having a strong camp while being drug-tested a couple of times a week and meeting with a counselor weekly, Polumbus is back in Brown's spot and Hurt is filling in for Lichtensteiger again.

"I feel good about our guys," said Shanahan, who signed Jordan Black on July 30 even though the former Kansas City starter was out of football last year after failing to make the Saints out of camp. "I feel good about our guys. I've got a lot of confidence in a number of these players that they'll step up and do what needs to be done."

Counting on Brown to recover, Lichtensteiger to return to 100 percent and Williams to stay clean are gambles. Relying on Hurt, Polumbus, et al to be regulars is even riskier.

"Whatever don't kill you makes you stronger," Williams said. "Yeah we got a couple injuries, but it's nothing too serious we hope. It won't be too big a deal. Mo stepped in and played a lot last year. Tyler played a lot last year. They're not dropoffs at all."

They certainly are in terms of experience. Griffin, despite his world-class speed, has to be wondering if he would've been better off returning for his senior year at Baylor rather than spending this season constantly on the run from opposing defenders.
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