Change could be coming for the Washington Commanders on the offensive line.
Head coach Ron Rivera said Monday afternoon it is believed that starting left guard Saahdiq Charles strained his calf -- the same one he's had issues with in the past -- during the Commanders' 14-7 loss to the New York Giants. He did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday, and the team is waiting to see more from Charles before deciding what the next steps will be for him.
Assuming Charles does not play in at least the Commanders' Week 8 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, that leaves a spot on the offensive line that the team needs to fill. For the last few days, the team has been looking at several options regarding not just left guard, but also the entire position group.
"We're looking at a lot of things right now and things that we want to do as far as going forward with the offensive line," Rivera said. "There's a lot of things that we're talking about and discussing and looking at."
It is well known now that the Commanders have been giving up sacks at a historic rate with Sam Howell taking 40 through seven games. While not all of that is because of the offensive line, as Howell has shown a habit of holding the ball and staying at the top of his drops, the Commanders are looking for solutions to one of the offense's biggest problems.
"We want to keep turning over every stone," said assistant head coach/offensive coordinator **Eric Bieniemy.** "The only thing that we are working on doing is just making sure that we can be better."
Some of those changes could come on the offensive line. One of the positions was already guaranteed to see some shuffling with Charles' injury, and there are a few options on the roster that could replace him.
Of the candidates, **Chris Paul** is the most likely to earn the job. Paul, a seventh-round pick from Tulsa in 2022, was competing with Charles in August and had extended reps with the starting offensive line while Charles was out with an injury. Paul had some solid moments, particularly as a run blocker, and has been praised for his strength by players and coaches alike.
Paul also felt during training camp that he had grown in the year since he joined the team.
"Definitely better prepared," Paul said. "And that just comes with being a veteran now at this point and continuing to improve and knowing the scheme and knowing the terminology."
Another possible candidate is third-round pick **Ricky Stromberg,** who has played in relief for Charles and Sam Cosmi at various points earlier in the season. That was the case last Sunday when Charles left the game, and Bieniemy thought the rookie "did a heck of a job."
"It's always fun to see your young guys get in there. Like I said, you always want to have the opportunity to evaluate your young guys and evaluate your talent and see exactly where we are and keep it moving from there."
After originally being drafted as a center, the Commanders moved him over to guard near the end of the preseason to give them more depth and flexibility at two positions. That versatility is part of the reason why Stromberg has been on the gameday roster since Week 1, while Paul has been a healthy scratch.
Rivera and the Commanders also aren't ruling out changes at other positions, saying "I don't take anything off the table" when asked about the possibility of other personnel changes.
Rivera was also asked about Tyler Larsen, who is currently listed as the backup center on the depth chart. However, the head coach didn't reveal much.
"There is, as I said, a lot of things that we're discussing and talking about and things that we feel can help us."
While the Commanders have 10 games left, which is plenty of time for them to recover from a 3-4 start, there is an increasing sense of urgency to breathe some life into the offense, which is 22nd in average yardage, last in sacks allowed and 31st in third-down conversion rate.
And if those potential changes can get the unit back on track, they're willing to give it a try.
"Each and every week," Bieniemy said, "we're always evaluating what we need to do."