There’s a lot to sort out on the Washington Redskins‘ offensive line.
They’re a team looking to bounce back from a 2018 season that saw them finish with a 7-9 record and no playoff appearance, despite having a shot at playing in January when they entered Week 16 at .500 — before losing their final two games to the Tennessee Titans and rival Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. An otherwise tumultuous offseason had a glimmer of light via a strong draft haul that included edge rusher Montez Sweat and quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but keeping the latter upright will be a task going forward.
For whether the starter is Haskins or veteran signal-caller Case Keenum — whom the Redskins acquired this offseason via trade — the holdout of All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams sends shockwaves down the entire O-line. Williams and refuses to take another snap in Washington, citing his distrust of the Redskins’ medical staff.
The team appears willing to oblige, and are reportedly now engaged in active trade talks around the league, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Howe notes the Patriots could be involved, but the Texans are maybe the most obvious landing spot with the second-most projected cap space in the league, per Spotrac, and ongoing issues protecting Deshaun Watson. Other potential fits could include the Browns (fourth in projected cap space), Patriots (23rd) and Broncos (31st).
To help salve the wound as best they can, Donald Penn and guard Hugh Thornton. The new additions will have to be meshed into the fold by assistant head coach and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and that won’t be an easy task — considering the team isn’t quite sure where everyone will be stationed across the O-line just yet.veteran tackle
Speaking to media from the team’s training camp in Richmond on Wednesday, head coach Jay Gruden says guys will undoubtedly move around.
“Thornton is going to come in and compete at guard,” he noted. “He’s played some football. He had a really good workout and is in good shape, so we decided to give him a shot. Right now, we’re playing people at multiple spots.
“We had [Wes] Martin at right guard on yesterday. We’re trying to get these guys in some different spots and some different looks — some flexibility. Obviously, [Ereck Flowers] is a guard and a tackle. [Geron Christian] got back and got some reps yesterday. It’s good to have Chase Roullier back.
“Bill does a great job of getting these guys working multiple spots, because at the end of the day when you dress five lineman — like I’ve said many times — those other two swing guys have to be able to play multiple spots on gameday. We’re trying to find the best guys who are the most flexible, and can help us.”
As far as when Penn will be ready, Gruden anticipates getting him work immediately, but doing so with a specific plan in mind.
“I don’t know if he’ll be ready to go today or not,” he said. “We’ll see. We’ll check him out and make sure he’s good to go. He doesn’t know any of the offense yet, so we’ll see. … It’ll take him about 30 minutes, probably, but he’s a bright guy.
“He played with the Raiders last year — with my brother — so he’ll have some familiarity with some of the schemes. It won’t take him long at all. The big thing is we don’t want to just thrust him in there and have him do 25 team reps on his first day here. We’ll get him acclimated a little, get him some individual work, throw him in there a couple of times with the team, get him some one-on-one’s and see where he’s at.”
Penn was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Minnesota Vikings in 2006 and went on to multi-year stints with both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders before joining the Redskins in 2019. A three-time pro bowler at protecting the edge, it’s a no-brainer Gruden and Co. would make the move to bring him in as they work to convince Williams things will be different going forward.
At the moment, the latter seems virtually impossible, but he’s still on the roster until further notice — albeit not in uniform.
It looks like that will change soon.