Rick Snider: It's all out of line so far

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It didn't take Robert Griffin III long to discover what every Washington Redskins quarterback has endured since the last Super Bowl championship more than two decades ago: The offensive line rarely stays the same.

The Redskins are down two starters before the first preseason game. Guard Kory Lichtensteiger will miss the preseason following knee surgery; he also didn't play in the final 11 games last year after tearing his ACL and MCL. Offensive tackle Jammal Brown is on the physically unable to perform list because both hips are bothering him after two years of setbacks.

The top lineman, tackle Trent Williams, missed the final four games last season because he failed a drug test. The recent signing of Jordan Black, who didn't play last year and has played little since 2006, shows the unit's thin depth. An ever-changing line that has perennially undermined the Redskins now is protecting the team's greatest asset since Sonny Jurgensen retired in 1974.

Griffin is numb to past problems. Then again, he has the elusiveness to survive blitzes and breakdowns.

"If you think you have a banged-up line or bad offensive line, then you'll play scared," Griffin said. "The one thing I don't want those guys to think is that I don't trust them, so I definitely trust my offensive linemen, whoever's out there with me."

Whoever's out there with me -- man is that prophetic.

"I definitely keep tabs on those guys, try to talk to them and see what's going on with them just for my mind's sake," Griffin said. "You want to have the best guys you can have out there, but we have a couple guys sitting out, and the rest of the line's stepping up and doing a good job."

Guard Maurice Hurt is filling in for Brown at right tackle. Rookie guard Josh LeRibeus is subbing for Lichtensteiger and also can play center. Indeed, coach Mike Shanahan makes sure all the linemen can play two positions.

"We've been talking about depth the whole time, and we do have some depth, which is nice," Shanahan said. "So if you do lose one or two guys, you're expecting some guys to come in and fill the void."

At least Griffin can rely on Williams, a 2010 first-rounder who has looked sharp in camp. Williams realizes his career is in jeopardy following the drug suspension and has responded with the kind of effort expected from a fourth overall selection.

"If Trent is on his technique, he's going to get bored because he's going to be able to just block people," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "You know Trent can do it all. He's got to really work on that technique and be consistent because as an offensive lineman it's hard because you can dominate a guy for 55 plays out of 60, but you have five bad plays and the guy you're going against is going to break the sack record in the NFL. ... I think if Trent can be good at his technique, he can be a premier guy in this league. We need him to be."

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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