Backup O-Line Gets Chance on Sunday

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Backup O-Line Gets Chance on Sunday

Postby yupchagee » Sun Aug 13, 2006 1:24 am

Backup O-Line Gets Chance on Sunday

By: Rich Tandler
Date: Aug 12, 2006

Tandler's Redskins Blog Ver. 08.13.06--The most interesting facet of Sunday's exhibition game will come when the members of the starting offensive line are wearing baseball caps on the sideline.

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The Washington Redskins will take the field in Cincinnati at 8:00 PM Eastern on Sunday night, but the real game won’t begin until 45 minutes or an hour later.

Oh, sure, it will be interesting to see if the Redskins’ “first-team” offense can put together a smooth drive or two. “First-team” is in quotation marks because some of those who will be taking the field as offensive starters on September 11 against the Vikings will play little if at all. Clinton Portis, for example, won’t get more than three or four carries if that many. How can you really judge the performance of the offense without its primary weapon?

The same can be said of judging how well the Washington defense does when Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer will be sitting out, waiting to test his damaged knee until the regular season draws closer. Rudi Johnson and Chad Johnson are likely to see about as much action as Portis does. As is the case with most NFL season ticket holders, the Bengal fans who shelled out regular-season prices for tickets to this glorified scrimmage will have grounds to sue for fraud.

That doesn’t mean that the event won’t have anything to hold our interest (especially at the price of free, as it’s on over-the-air national television). The most noteworthy moments will come sometime in the second quarter. By that time, all of the members of the first-string offensive line will be wearing baseball hats and the second team, as named by Joe Bugel earlier this week, will be protecting Todd Collins and trying to open holes for Kerry Carter. Tyson Walter and Chris Pino will be the tackles, Jasper Harvey and Ikechuku Ndukwe will line up at guard, and Mike Pucillo will be the center.

Calling this a rag tag group would be doing a disservice to rags and tags. They used to call the Redskins O-line the Dirtbags. This group is the Paper or Plastic Bags as each of them is one step away from having to bag groceries for a living.

Their collective resume reads like that of the proverbial Waive Wire from Hell. Only Pucillo (seventh round) and Walter (sixth) were drafted. Those two are the only ones who have ever taken in snap in a real NFL game.

All kidding aside, these individuals have something to prove. Pucillo wants to show the Browns that they were fools for letting him go (and considering what happened to center LeCharles Bentley very early in training camp maybe the wish they had held on to him). Walter couldn’t get on the field for one of the worst lines in the NFL in Houston and clearly he wants to show them what a mistake they made. Pino and Harvey played together at San Diego State last year and they want to show that a lot of teams made mistakes in passing them over in the draft. Ndukwe wants to make people have to learn to pronounce his name.

And, more importantly, a couple of them have to step up. All of the millions that Daniel Snyder spent and all of the countless hours and buckets of sweat that the players and coaches have invested in trying to win a Super Bowl this year could be wasted if there is an injury to one of the starting linemen and nobody is able to fill the void. The team has to find someone who could answer the 911 call and fill a void for a few plays, a few games or, perhaps, for a good chunk of the season.

That someone, perhaps a couple of someones, probably will have to come from this group. For Walter, Harvey, Pucillo, Ndukwe, and Pino, the first step towards taking that step forward is Sunday night.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they came to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For
Skins fan since '55

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