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Washington went back to the drawing board this offseason, and replaced 60% of its starting offensive line
NFL

Washington went back to the drawing board this offseason, and replaced 60% of its starting offensive line

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Of last year’s starting offensive line for the Washington Football Team, only center Chase Roullier (73) and right guard Brandon Scherff (75) are expected to hold the same position in 2021.

The revolving door in Washington hasn’t stopped spinning yet.

Coach Ron Rivera made no secret of his desire to bring in new people on and off the field when he took the job last year, and that change will be felt on the offensive line this year.

The departure of former Virginia star Morgan Moses made the biggest headlines, but the team is rebuilding across the board, aiming to cut back on the 50 sacks it allowed last year, the second-most in the league only to Philadelphia.

Two starters return at their positions — center Chase Roullier was the first to sign a long-term deal in the Rivera era, and All-Pro Brandon Scherff returns for at least one more year at right guard under a franchise-tag contract. From there, Rivera is content to let things sort themselves out during training camp.

“Going forward there is nothing set in stone,” he said. “A lot of these positions will be very competitive.”

The big storyline early will be how quickly the young players come along, and whether they can challenge for starting spots entering Week 1.

Veteran players have the inside track on the other three jobs.

Charles Leno Jr. was signed to play left tackle, having arrived from the Chicago Bears, and former Washington player Ereck Flowers arrived via trade with Miami, and enters camp as the presumptive left guard.

At right guard, Cornelius Lucas appears to be the favorite, but he’ll be pushed by rookie Sam Cosmi, a second-round pick.

Flowers will feel heat from Saahdiq Charles, last year’s draft pick who missed almost all of his rookie season with various injuries.

“We drafted Cosmi, we do want him on the field, but we will put him on the field ... when he earns that opportunity,” Rivera said. “Lucas is a guy that we are taking a nice, hard look at. That’s going to be a very competitive position going into training camp.”

Leno steps into the most important role on the line, but won’t do so as a total novice in the system — his position coach in Chicago, Harry Hiestand, got his start at USC working under Washington offensive line coach John Matsko, and the two share a similar terminology.

Where Saahdiq Charles lands will be interesting to see — he worked as a tackle last year, but has primarily been a guard this offseason.

Rivera said moving players around is a way to build depth, something the team is lacking.

“We’ve got some good, young players that are going to be guys that will eventually transition to bigger roles for us,” the coach said.

“But right now, we are really pleased with the position flex that we have from our young players. I think wanting to remake it and create a competitive atmosphere is a big part of what we did.”

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