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On the O-Line, Righting the Left Side


Joe Bugel's summer workload became a bit heavier late on Monday afternoon.

All of a sudden, Bugel will be looking for ways to shore up the left side of the offensive line over the next few weeks.

That's because Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee during Monday's practice and could be sidelined for up to four weeks.

A quick check on the calendar suggests Samuels will be back in time for the Sept. 9 opener versus Miami at FedExField.

Nonetheless, getting the left side of the Redskins' offensive line right takes on a world of importance as the team goes through its second week of training camp and prepares for Saturday's scrimmage at Baltimore.

With so much riding on the play of Jason Campbell in his first season as a full-time starter, the last thing the Redskins want is uncertainty regarding the offensive line.

Now, there are two questions on the left, with Samuels going down at tackle and Todd Wade learning the ins-and-outs at left guard.

Wade is taking over for the departed Derrick Dockery. Coaches will rotate linemen in for Samuels. First up? Undrafted rookie Stephon Heyer, who got a look during Tuesday's practice. Heyer played his college ball at Maryland.

If the Redskins played a game this week, it's likely that 10-year NFL veteran Jason Fabini would start at left tackle. He has played both left and right tackle in his career, although he's seeing action at guard with the Redskins.

Samuels compared his injury to one he sustained in a Nov. 23, 2003 game at Miami. The orange-clad Dolphins won that one 24-23 on a pair of Ricky Williams TDs in the fourth quarter.

Said Samuels, the 6-5, 317-pound eight-year veteran: "I hurt my MCL against Miami a few years back when Junior Seau kicked me in the leg, which set me out for a while."

Samuels left that Week 12 game in the second quarter and was inactive for the next three games before returning to the starting lineup for Weeks 16 and 17 versus Chicago and Philadelphia.

That 2003 injury at Miami may have cost Samuels a Pro Bowl nod. He finished as a third alternate that year. In his first seven NFL campaigns, Samuels went to Hawaii four times.

He's proven to be a player who can battle back from injuries. In 2002, for instance, Samuels was the Redskins' winner of the Ed Block Courage Award.

The Redskins seemed to stockpile offensive linemen this offseason, bringing in Fabini, for instance, and raising the number of offensive linemen to 13 for training camp.

Now it looks like a smart choice, considering Monday's injury to Samuels, which should not cause alarm but at the same time certainly wasn't in the master plan for a team banking on a young quarterback.

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