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Redskins Mulling Options Along Offensive Line As Browns Game Nears


The Redskins have quite a few different lineup choices they can use along the offensive line on Sunday, as they continue to evaluate the best combination before facing the Browns.

The Redskins are preparing different offensive line groupings before determining which will be the best for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

Through the first two weeks of the season, the Redskins had the same starting five offensive linemen, but injuries to both Kory Lichtensteiger and Shawn Lauvao in last Sunday's victory over the New York Giants put Spencer Long into the lineup at center, the first time he'd ever taken snaps there in his regular season game.

Trent Williams, meanwhile, shifted over to guard for the first time in his life with Ty Nsekhe coming into the game at left tackle.

All three could continue at those respective positions on Sunday, but the team is also giving serious though to having Arie Kouandjio play left guard and are monitoring how quickly new center John Sullivan grasps the offense after he was signed on Tuesday.

"We have to prepare for all of it because you never know," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, how we're going to start the game yet is to be determined but it's very tempting to move Trent back inside and Ty [Nsekhe] at left tackle. It is a tempting deal. But Arie's played a lot of snaps at guard. That's what he's played the whole training camp and OTAs and he's ready to play guard, if need be, too."

If Kouandjio is in the starting lineup in Sunday, it will mark the first time in his career he's started an NFL game.

A fourth-round pick out of Alabama in 2015, Kouandjio has appeared in just three regular season games to date with one offensive snap.

Kouandjio is no stranger to having to make weekly adjustments, as he was one of Alabama's most productive offensive linemen in his four seasons with the Crimson Tide. He started 27 of his 40 college appearances.

Check out images of rookie offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.

"During the weeks where I'm not sure if I'm going to play or not, I try to do my best to prepare," Kouandjio said. "This kind of adds motivation, it's easier to spend more time studying and stuff like that when you know you're going to get in."

Williams made the "extremely difficult" move from tackle to guard mid-game last Sunday, as the perennial Pro Bowl was told he'd be moved inside with Nsekhe flanking him to the left. He'd like to play tackle once again this week but is willing to play guard, too, if the coaching staff asks him to stay there.

While it looked like Williams had little issue at guard – he helped set up Jamison Crowder's screen catch for a touchdown – the Oklahoma product noticed some correctable areas of his game when he went back and watched it on film.

"I was winging it a lot of the time, not really sure where to go or who to block, but I understand concepts," Williams said. "So some of the stuff I was able to make out on the go."

Perhaps his biggest adjustment, though, is playing in a space with more bodies crowding the area.

"At tackle you've got a little room, the guys are about two to three yards away from you [pre-snap]," Williams said. "At guard, they are right on top of you. I noticed one mistake; you don't really have time to recover. At tackle, you may be able to run a guy past the pocket or past the quarterback. At guard, one slip and he's in the quarterbacks face. That and being able to recover and use my feet is a big part of my game on the edge, so took part of my game away from me on the inside."

At center, meanwhile, Long appears in line to get his first career start at the position on Sunday. But having the time over the first three weeks to watch Lichtensteiger man the offense gave the Nebraska product additional time to watch all of the necessary aspects of the position. =

"You know, he's shown out here [Wednesday] and [Tuesday] and really the last couple of weeks that he's ready to go from a mental standpoint," Gruden said. "Just playing center full-time for the first time in a game we were a little concerned, but he finished the game and did extremely well for us at the Giants. So we don't have any concern there as far as him picking it up or making the calls."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins didn't have any issues with Long when he came in for Lichtensteiger, who was removed from the game after the first play of the third quarter against the Giants.

"He's first of all, very intelligent, he's very conscientious, he has a sense of urgency," Cousins said. "So although he doesn't have a lot of starts at center under his belt, the ability to make the calls, the ability to run the show – he's very capable. So I don't see myself having to carry a new role or an added weight with Kory [Lichtensteiger] being gone because Spencer's pretty on top of it."

Long, of course, could move back to guard if Sullivan picks up the offense quick enough. He started 93 games during his time with the Vikings before signing with the Redskins earlier this week.

"He's been in the league for a long time. He knows what football is all about, knows the detail that has to be accomplished at the center position," Gruden said. "He'll go through the process with [offensive line coach] Bill [Callahan] and get up to date, no problem. He's meeting extra and he'll be ready."

There's uncertainty as to who will start on Sunday. Depth and versatility is a big reason why.

"We have a lot of different options," Gruden said. "That's the good thing about our line, they're pretty flexible."

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